U.S. Senate Committee on Environment & Public Works
Statement of Senator Barack Obama
Oversight to review the permitting of Energy Projects
Mr. Chairman, thank you for holding this hearing today.
Like you, I am very concerned about this country's energy future. The rising cost of natural gas, our dependence on foreign oil, the aging of our coal burning facilities, and the daunting prospect of restarting a national dialogue on nuclear power are just a few of the issues with which Congress must grapple.
The good news is that there are many new prospects for energy sources, some of which will be discussed here today.
At the same time, however, one of the clear differences between the U.S. and many developing nations is our quest to balance economics with a healthy environment. We learned from our early mistakes as an emerging industrial nation and instituted a series of environmental safeguards that have served us well. In our quest for streamlined processes, we must be careful not to truncate the roles given different permitting agencies and deprive the public of access to the expertise that is vested in those agencies.
We also must be careful not to needlessly amend the National Environmental Policy Act, one of the pillars of U.S. environmental law and a model for legislation in other countries. At the heart of this law are the twin goals of disclosure and informed discussion regarding federal actions. Through the NEPA process, many interested parties have been given a voice that might not have been heard otherwise.
I look forward to hearing the testimony of the witnesses. Thank you.