RENEWABLE ENERGY PROJECT SITING IMPROVEMENT ACT OF 2004 -- (House of Representatives - June 15, 2004)
Mr. POMBO. Mr. Speaker, pursuant to House Resolution 672, I call up the bill (H.R. 4513) to provide that in preparing an environmental assessment or environmental impact statement required under section 102 of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 with respect to any action authorizing a renewable energy project, no Federal agency is required to identify alternative project locations or actions other than the proposed action and the no action alternative, and for other purposes.
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Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from West Virginia for yielding me this time.
Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this bill and express my opposition to the other energy bills we are considering today and tomorrow as part of what the Republican leadership is calling Energy Week.
I would like to start with this bill, the Renewable Energy Project Siting Act. As the Members know, I am co-chair of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, so some may wonder how I can be opposed to the bill. And the answer is that the bill is not what it claims to be, and I oppose it for what it really is.
Voting against the bill does not mean opposing the development of clean renewable energy technologies. Instead, it means being opposed to rushing the development of energy projects without first subjecting them to the full environmental and public health review required by the National Environmental Policy Act, or NEPA.
In my experience and my understanding of the history, environmental analysis has not held up siting of a sound renewable energy project; so there is no need for the bill. If we look at the simple purpose of NEPA, it is to require that the Federal Government looks before it leaps to make sure that the benefits of a project do not come at the expense of the environment.
That is a sound rule, and it should be maintained. So for that reason I cannot support this bill.
At this point let me, if I might, briefly discuss the other energy bills on this week's agenda. There is no doubt that we in the Congress need to pass a comprehensive energy bill. But the bills we will be considering this week will not address the real problems we face today, high energy prices and finite supplies of fossil fuels. Instead, at most it merely postpones the inevitable transition from hydrocarbons that we need to make by subsidizing oil and gas production at the expense of cleaner and more efficient technologies. Drilling in the wildlife refuge in Alaska will not help us get out of this bind, which is again one of the reasons I will oppose that bill when it is considered tomorrow.
And the other bill we will consider tomorrow, to make it easier for refineries to restart and be developed in areas of high unemployment by relaxing environmental regulations, will not do anything to affect oil prices and could create environmental hazards for the residents of these areas.
Mr. Speaker, the fact that the Republican leadership is forcing this debate on these bills we have already considered not only indicates a lack of imagination but also an admission that they have no plan to address rising gas prices and the energy needs of this country.
This appears to be an exercise in politics, not policy. If we get serious in this House about addressing our energy concerns and developing a real energy policy, I know we can find common ground. But this week's showboating is not serious. I urge my colleagues to oppose these bills.