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American Clean Energy And Security Act Of 2009

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

AMERICAN CLEAN ENERGY AND SECURITY ACT OF 2009

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Mr. HOLT. Madam Speaker, I thank the Chair.

Energy, climate and environment are principal subjects that I have spoken about and worked on for decades, before and since I first came to Congress and to work on these issues, I believe, is a principal reason my constituents sent me to Congress. I admire the chairman's skill in assembling a bill, and I fully support the chairman's efforts to reduce the release of greenhouse gases. However, I'm deeply concerned that the bill does not include the research funding necessary to reach the target of 80 percent emission reduction set in the bill. We must transform the way we produce and use energy. We cannot meet this goal with today's technologies; and this bill, as written, will not provide the billions of dollars needed to fund and develop the future technologies.

So I'm here to ask the chairman of the committee if I may have his assurance that he will work with me to increase the amount of research and development funding in this bill and other legislation that we need in order to reduce our reliance on foreign fuels and to slow the rate of growth of climate change.

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Mr. HOLT. Madam Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 2454, the American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009.

For years, the consensus in the scientific community has been that the release of greenhouse gasses into the atmosphere is altering the Earth's climate in ways that are expensive and deadly. This is one of the principle subjects I have spoken about and worked on for decades--before and since I first ran for office--and it is one of the reasons, I believe that my constituents sent me to Congress.

Today the House of Representatives at last is taking sweeping action to cap greenhouse gas emissions, promote the production of renewable energy, and make our homes, cars, and businesses more energy efficient. This legislation would require that we reduce our carbon emissions by 17 percent from 2005 levels by 2020 and 80 percent by 2050. It would implement a Renewable Electricity Standard that would require electric utilities to provide 20 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. It would make historic investments new clean energy technologies and energy efficiency, including energy efficiency and renewable energy, carbon capture and sequestration, electric and other advanced technology vehicles, and research and development. These provisions would help to slow the rate of global warming and preserve our environment for future generations. Further, a recent report from the Center for American Progress estimates that these provisions would help to create 1.7 million new, high skilled clean energy jobs over the next decade.

Opponents of this bill have argued that it would cost American families over $500 a year in additional energy costs. While it is true that there would be increases in the cost of energy, this bill would return almost 50 percent of the proceeds from the cap-and-trade auction to consumers. In my home state of New Jersey, families who currently pay $100 on their monthly energy bill would see their bill increase by less than $3 a month. If you include the savings that would come through the energy efficiency provisions in this legislation American families could save $4,000 by 2030 on their energy bills.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, in New Jersey climate change has caused temperatures to be 4 degrees warmer than they were in 1970. Over the past century precipitation has increased by 5 percent and severe weather incidents have increased by 12-20 percent, and sea level along our coast is increasing .14 inches a year. It is worth devoting some money and effort to slow the devastating climate change is having on our state.

I am pleased that several provisions that I wrote were included in this bill. I worked with Rep. GEORGE MILLER and Rep. JERRY MCNERNEY authorize the WaterSense program that would help consumers identify water efficient products. Water efficiency saves energy by reducing the amount of energy used to heat, transport, and clean water. The savings are substantial and real. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, if only one out of every 100 American homes retrofitted their homes with water-efficient fixtures, we would save 100 GWh of electricity, enough energy to power more than 9,000 homes for an entire year, while reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 80,000 tons.

Rep. JARED POLIS and I wrote a provision that would require the Departments of Energy, Labor and Education to compile an online database for a renewable energy curriculum that would be easily accessible to community colleges, vocational schools and universities looking to create training programs but lacking local or technical expertise. The transformation to a clean energy future will require a trained workforce and our amendment would ensure that these communities, whether in rural Wyoming or urban Pittsburg, have easy access to green jobs training in new energy and new manufacturing sectors so they can prosper in a new energy economy.

I worked with Rep. ROSA DELAURO, Rep. TAMMY BALDWIN, and Rep. BRIAN BAIRD to include a provision that would allow the Secretary of Energy to create a research program to study the role that human behavior will play in energy consumption and climate change. Changing consumer behavior offers a promising opportunity to promote energy independence and reduce greenhouse gas emissions, however there is still much to be learned about the forces that drive consumer actions.

As a member of the Committee on Natural Resources, I worked to make sure that sufficient funding from the cap and trade auction would be used for domestic and international adaptation. Funding allocated under this provision would help to ensure the protection, restoration, and conservation of natural resources and enable them to become more resilient, adapt to and withstand the impacts of climate change and ocean acidification. It will require the study of how wildlife corridors will change as climate change affects migration patterns and identify the steps to minimize the effects of climate change on migratory species. It would be used to protect the public health from the effects of climate change. Internationally, it would be used to prevent the tropical deforestation that is adding billions of tons of carbon to our atmosphere.

I remain deeply concerned that this bill does not include the necessary research and development funding that is needed to reach the 80 percent reduction target set in H.R. 2425. We will not be able to meet this goal with today's technologies, and as written, the bill does not provide the billions of dollars a year that will be needed to develop them. This is not a small or parochial concern. If Americans and others around the world are to embrace a transformation in the way we use and produce energy, they must know that our effort includes the engine to drive the innovation for that transformation. Without a very robust research effort--many billions of dollars--the vision of transformation will be a mirage and the public will know it. I have been assured by Chairman WAXMAN, Chairman MARKEY, Speaker PELOSI, members of the Administration and members of the Senate that they understand this shortcoming and that they will work with me to increase the research funding to drive the innovation we need to transform the way we produce and use energy.

Ultimately, I support this bill because doing nothing is not an option. If we continue on the same path the U.S. Global Change Research Program estimates that average global temperatures will increase 11 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century, causing among other effects a rise in sea level of 3 to 4 feet, completely flooding low lying areas like the Everglades and Cape Canaveral or Cape May. By passing this legislation we can slow the rate of climate change, we can create millions of new jobs, save consumers money through energy efficiency, and end our reliance on foreign fossil fuels. I urge my colleagues to support it.

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