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Public Statements

Providing for Further Consideration of H.R. 5351, Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008

Location: Washington, DC



Mr. SMITH of Texas. Mr. Speaker, today is day 11 without the Protect America Act and so our Nation continues to be at greater risk of attack from terrorists.

Yesterday I submitted an amendment to the Rules Committee to attach the Senate-passed FISA bill to H.R. 5351, the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008. House Democrats once again refused to bring this commonsense, bipartisan bill to the floor for a straight up-or-down vote.

Last year, Admiral McConnell, the Director of National Intelligence, warned Congress that the intelligence community was missing two-thirds of all overseas terrorist communications, further endangering American lives. Congress enacted the Protect America Act to close this loophole for terrorists.

The Senate, working with the administration, drafted legislation to modernize FISA and give our intelligence agencies a long-term law under which they could operate. It has been 2 weeks since the Senate overwhelmingly approved their bill by a vote of 68-29. We should vote on it immediately to better protect American lives.

Mr. Speaker, I also oppose H.R. 5351, the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008. H.R. 5351 contains some beneficial provisions, such as creating incentives to make energy efficiency improvements to new and existing homes and extending tax credits to encourage the production of alternative forms of energy. But while it is well and good to encourage alternative energy development, Congress should not do so by damaging our domestic oil and gas industry.

According to the Department of Energy, in 2006 all renewable energy sources provided only 6 percent of the U.S. domestic energy supply. In contrast, oil and natural gas provided 58 percent of our domestic energy supply. The numbers don't lie. Oil and natural gas fuel our economy and sustain our way of life.

Furthermore, almost 2 million Americans are directly employed in the oil and natural gas industry. Punishing one of our Nation's most important industries does not constitute a national energy policy.

The answer to lowering gas prices and reducing our dependence on foreign oil is not to remove $17.6 billion in tax incentives from the oil and gas industry. The answer is to utilize our domestic resources, including ANWR.

According to former Interior Secretary Gale Norton, ``ANWR would supply every drop of petroleum for Florida for 29 years, New York for 34 years, California for 16 years, or New Hampshire for 315 years.'' It could also supply Washington, D.C. for 1,710 years.

The answer is also to build new refineries and to develop more nuclear energy, as most European and Asian countries have already done. But no

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new major refinery has been built in the United States in the past 15 years. And no new nuclear facility has received a construction license in the United States for 30 years, even though safe technology is now available.

Mr. Speaker, instead of penalizing the oil and gas industry, Congress should pass real energy reform, expand domestic exploration of oil and gas, build more refineries, and construct more nuclear facilities.


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