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New Direction For Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


NEW DIRECTION FOR ENERGY INDEPENDENCE, NATIONAL SECURITY, AND CONSUMER PROTECTION ACT -- (House of Representatives - August 04, 2007)

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Mr. SMITH of New Jersey. Mr. Chairman, the U.S. Congress has an obligation to work to ensure a healthy and safe environment for the benefit of current and future generations. To reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and achieve a healthier environment, we need a multi-faceted approach that addresses broad spectrums of inter-related issues and fosters both energy independence and clean energy reliance.

As a cosponsor of various global warming reduction initiatives, I urge my colleagues to support today's legislation, H.R. 3221, a comprehensive plan to combat global warming, provide national security by reducing dependence on foreign oil, help to better protect our natural wildlife, and offer international assistance to developing countries to promote clean and efficient energy technologies.

Among its many good provisions, I am pleased that H.R. 3221 includes the full text of legislation that I, along with Foreign Affairs Chairman TOM LANTOS sponsored--H.R. 2420, The International Climate Cooperation Re-engagement Act of 2007. The Lantos-Smith bill was approved and reported from the Foreign Affairs Committee in May and is now Title II of H.R. 3221, the underlying bill before us today.

It is no secret that climate change has a disproportionate impact on the vulnerable, poor populations in our world. Accordingly, the Lantos-Smith provisions of H.R. 3221 are designed to push and assist developing countries as they seek to implement positive renewable energy practices. Specifically, these provisions authorize $1 billion over five years to provide U.S. aid to support the overall purpose of reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The monies can also be used to increase institutional abilities to provide energy and environmental management services including outreach programs for India and China--two of the world's largest emitters of greenhouse gases. The bill also authorizes trade missions, programs to strengthen energy research and educational exchange, and an interagency working group to support a Clean Energy Technology Exports Initiative. These provisions are an important aspect of creating local, sustainable capacity and will complement well other program goals of our foreign assistance.

Another vital provision found in Title II of today's legislation is similar to one that I proposed over 17 years ago to create an office, ideally within the State Department, with the sole mandate of working with foreign countries and others to mitigate the international impact of global climate change. During my tenure in Congress, I have witnessed how the designation of an office within the State Department has bolstered efforts on a single critical issue with notable results within a short time period. This has been the case, for example, with the Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons as created by P.L. 108-193, my legislation the Trafficking Victims Protection Act. Similarly, I know that the establishment of an Office on Global Climate Change at the ambassadorial level within the State Department as provided for in H.R. 3221 will demonstrate to the world that the United States is targeting needed resources to address this challenge and is completely engaged in the worldwide fight against global warming.

Title II of H.R. 3221 also creates an International Clean Energy Foundation to serve the long-term foreign policy and energy security goals of reducing global greenhouse gas emissions. The foundation will be charged with promoting programs that serve as models for significantly reducing emissions through clean and efficient energy technologies, processes and services. The creation of the International Clean Energy Foundation promises to add a particularly effective tool in our arsenal against adverse climate change.

Mr. Chairman, global warming continues to be one of the most pressing environmental concerns in the world today. Given sea level rise, the increasing severity of storm surges and continued warming temperatures, the impact of global climate change is undeniable. Unless we act now--the future posseses an even greater threat to our way of life on this planet.

With its incorporation of H.R. 2420, H.R. 3221 represents an important step--both domestically and internationally--in reducing our dependence on fossil fuels and promoting 21st century clean energy solutions. Legislative action by this Congress to promote investment in renewable energy development, availability and implementation will help ensure a healthy environment. I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 3221.

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