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Public Statements

Energy And Water Development And Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2010

Statement

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I yield myself as much time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations bill for fiscal year 2010. This is a good bill because it is a significant improvement over the administration's budget request, and it was put together in a very bipartisan manner.

Before I turn to the contents of the legislation before us, like Mr. Pastor, I would like to thank the fantastic staff--Taunja Berquam, the Clerk; Bob Sherman; Joe Levin; Jim Windle; Casey Pearce; and Lauren Minto. On the minority side, I would like to thank Rob Blair and Kevin Jones. In my personal office, I would like to thank Katie Hazlett and Nancy Fox. In Mr. Pastor's personal office, I would like to thank Rick Patrick. All of these individuals have worked tirelessly to put together the product before us.

No one has worked harder than Mr. Pastor, and I want to thank Mr. Pastor for his friendship and for his leadership and guidance on this bill. The gentleman from Arizona is a pleasure to work with. I thank him for his leadership and for his assistance.

Mr. Chairman, the subcommittee's recommendation totals $33.82 billion, which is $1.1 billion below the President's request and $200 million over the fiscal year 2000 enacted level. While the dollar amounts are significant, the issues contained in this bill are at the core of our Nation's economic prosperity and national security, especially the energy portfolio, and our historic responsibility for the reliability and the protection of our nuclear stockpile. Thus, it is worthy of debate and amendment on the House floor.

The bill was preceded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which gave more than $44 billion to the agencies under our jurisdiction. In fact, nearly $39 billion alone went to the Department of Energy. The Department has nearly one-and-a-half times more money to manage even before we consider this annual appropriations bill, so our bill cannot be viewed simply through the traditional lens of annual appropriations. With the passage of the stimulus bill, Secretary Chu and his new team assumed new roles as major grant managers and accountants for billions of dollars for new Federal and State programs and hundreds of new employees.

Mr. Chairman, I am pleased that we were able to improve upon the administration's request in several ways. For example, the legislation before us increases the budget request by over $400 million for the Army Corps of Engineers, enabling us to address more water needs across our country. The Army Corps projects touch virtually every congressional district; and I know Mr. Pastor and I highly respect the interests of all Members who, knowing their district needs, have sought some assistance; and we've done our best to accommodate them. Our recommendation increases research and development for both renewable energy and nuclear power while supporting clean coal initiatives and other technologies, such as geothermal, solar, fusion and wind power. I am exceptionally pleased that our bill keeps the Department on track for the Next Generation Nuclear Plant program.

There are some areas that I would have done a bit differently, of course. Not surprisingly, I would have preferred to have done more to reverse the administration's decision to terminate the Yucca Mountain repository in Nevada, where we have spent over $11 billion of taxpayer and rate payer moneys--in fact, $7 billion of rate payer moneys--with little apparent return. We still have tons of waste to dispose of and to protect. The bill before us does contain the administration's significant cut to the program, and I am deeply concerned that this basically political decision will be followed by others trumping future scientific recommendations and judgments. However, our bill directs $70 million to ensure that the questions raised during the Yucca license application process can be answered; and it requires that funding for the President's suggested Blue Ribbon Panel is only available for a review, which includes all alternatives, including Yucca Mountain. I think this is the only way future review could be credible.

I would also have preferred much more support for nuclear power here in the United States and the greater availability of nuclear loan guarantees. Given what China and other nations are doing to build new nuclear power plants, we could produce much more electricity ourselves while adding American jobs, which we need if the administration as well as House and Senate majority leadership were more supportive. American companies are working abroad building nuclear power plants while we dither here. The President and congressional leadership appear to have a strong bias against nuclear power as well as oil and gas production, which will leave our Nation severely disadvantaged. Energy-intensive industries, like what is left of our American manufacturing base, will no longer be able to compete with nations who are making nuclear and other types of capital investments a priority, and they're not subjecting themselves to self-imposed cap-and-trade emissions reductions. Our lack of investing in nuclear power, so well illustrated in the recent passage of the so-called American Clean Energy and Security Act, is a gift that keeps on giving to our economic competitors China and India, whose economies are already sucking away U.S. jobs at an alarming rate.

We also improved that portion of the committee's jurisdiction that involves nuclear weapons activities, not to promote more nuclear weapons, but to provide more funds to reduce the weapons stockpile. The President's recent trip to Russia and his call for major changes in what is called our nuclear ``posture'' must be matched by the administration's funding requests that will pay for our country's nuclear dismantlements and for the science to certify the reliability of what's left. And we must provide adequate funding to retain our highly specialized nuclear scientists and technicians and to maintain the facilities and laboratories where they do their work. The only way to support our national security is by increasing this account, not by holding it flat. Talk about a delicate balance between nuclear and renewables is only talk, for investments in renewables received $60 billion in the $800 billion stimulus--all of that borrowed money, I should add--and nuclear received nothing. I do hope that we can address this disproportionality in conference.

One of my biggest disappointments, however, is not with the bill but the way it was brought to the floor. With all the debate about climate change, global warming, conservation, carbon footprints and green jobs, Members of Congress in both parties should have the right to propose amendments to address their concerns and support sources of power that they specifically favor and know about, whether that be nuclear, hydroelectric, solar, wind, oil- or gas-based, fuel cell or fusion. That traditional right to amend our appropriations has been severely curtailed by the House leadership. Our appropriations bill affects virtually every part of our economy, the household budgets of every American family and job prospects for thousands, and the thought that renewables alone are going to give us energy independence is, of course, on its face, absurd.

Before I close though, I'd like, on a positive note, to thank the Army Corps of Engineers, both military and civilian who, as we gather here today, continue to do their remarkable work in dangerous territory in Iraq and Afghanistan. We thank them for their courage, their work and their professionalism. Mr. Chairman, again I'd like to thank Vice Chairman PASTOR for his leadership. Despite my unhappiness about the energy policy issues I have discussed, I intend to support the bill.

I reserve the balance of my time.

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