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Public Statements

Clean Energy Economy For The Future

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, D.C.

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Mr. LUJÁN. Thank you, Mr. Tonko. It's an honor to be here with you tonight. I just want to say thank you for making sure we got this hour moving, and especially to be here with such a distinguished Member as Mr. Inslee to talk about these important projects that are moving forward.

If I could just pick up a little bit where Mr. Inslee left off there, when we talk about energy efficiency and the investments that are made in people's homes, let's walk through with everybody tuning in what that entails. So, at the most basic level, someone that owns a home or someone that has a place where they live, they walk down to the local hardware store, they purchase, whether it's caulking or some insulation that they can install on their own, maybe change out some light bulbs, some basic things that they can do on their own. So they go and they support the local store, make some investments there, help that local economy churn a little bit. They go back home, they make these installations, they're going to see that utility bill drop a little bit.

Now with the investments that we've put forward in both the Recovery Act and what we hope to see with the energy bill that we passed out of this House and out of this Chamber and what the Senate is working on right now, we're expanding those opportunities. All across the country and going on right back at home, we've been part of going into people's homes where they've had some weatherization projects recently, where it's a little more complex, where they're working with local contractors; local contractors that are going to the community college or going back to some of those apprenticeship programs and learning some new skills so that way they can further their business, take advantage of some of the investments that we've put forward when they're installing now more insulation in the roof tops, those shinglings that Mr. Inslee was referring to that sheet metal workers are now putting in businesses and homes, maybe changing out that furnace if it's been there for 20 or 30 years, maybe it's even that water heater which has been there for 50 years, doing something with that second refrigerator that's maybe taking up a lot of energy.

Now we're putting people to work. We're making investments in homes. We're adding value to the home, so now we're helping people in their communities, putting a little bit more money in their pockets. If we can do

this in every home and people across the country are taking advantage of these programs and we're making these investments, how much less energy is needed? When we talk about that we go to rates, rates that they're going to see coming from utility companies as a whole. If we can prevent one more coal plant from being built or one more big facility from being built in an old conventional way and we're able to employ new technologies, so that way we're bringing in more job skills and more job creation, looking at the way we can take advantage of abundant resources we have here in the U.S., making sure we're building out transmission in a smart way, taking advantage of new materials, employing the scientists, the engineers, the researchers who are looking at these applied technologies, making sure that they're looking at modeling, employing and bringing in the expertise from our national laboratories into this now?

We've got everyone from the person that's in the home that can pick up that hammer and could do a little bit of work themselves, to the contractor who can go into those homes and make sure that they're making those investments, the local hardware person making some investments, to physicists, engineers, researchers who are adding to this. Now, we don't see the possibility from a job creation perspective, and it's unfortunate that we still hear from some of those that are opposed to investing in America and in investing in energy, from creating these new jobs and making things happen, I don't know what more we need to do to convince them, because all across the country this is happening. That's why we need to continue making these strides forward and making these investments in America, because if we do things smarter and we do things better, we're going to get this economy turned around. And making sure that we're investing and taking advantage of a new way of investing in energy, investing in energy efficiency, investing in weatherization and investing in renewable generation, we can make all these wonderful things happen.

And even going a step further to what Mr. Inslee was talking about with the bio-fuel tax credit extension, so we're being less dependent on foreign sources of fuel, foreign sources of oil, and we're able to build that right here in America. What a great idea. It's just an honor to be a part of that.

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Mr. LUJÁN. Mr. Tonko, we have an opportunity to work on these issues together, to move legislation and work with our colleagues to talk about what tomorrow will look like and not wait for a few years to come before we get a lot of this policy in place to create these jobs, to be smart about the way we do things, to invest in this technology and to really embrace this opportunity that we have now.

As I travel around the district, I remind people how, not too long ago, we had $4.50 gasoline. If you were using diesel and you were out on the farm in some of the rural parts of the country, we had $5 diesel fuel, and how a lot of those people that were making the profits off of that, where this money was going overseas, they weren't really our friends. And they still aren't. We see where that money is going. We have an opportunity now to change that as a way that we look at energy in the country, in the United States of America, in this beautiful place that we call home.

Now, as we talk about the tax incentives necessary for homeowners and businesses to be able to invest in their homes, I think Mr. Inslee is right on track there. As we talk about what we can do, in looking at being smarter about the way that we look at policy, adopting better ways of doing things, encouraging people to invest in their homes in a way that's going to save them money in the long run, that's going to add value to their home in the long run is brilliant, I hope that we have something like that in the new jobs bill.

Now, Mr. Tonko, you were talking about how you were able to work with schools in your community, with Cornell, with leading institutions and universities, to work with the local public schools or with the dairies to create more efficiency so that way they could put more money back into their pockets, have a more competitive cost structure with their products as well.

When we invest in our schools, we create living classrooms. We create classrooms where we are teaching our students these jobs skills of tomorrow by encouraging them to go learn a trade or go to college to become that electrical engineer, the mechanical engineer, to become the entrepreneur to start a business so that way they can go and make these investments in our community.

What better way to get more young people encouraged and to really get that ingenuity moving, to get the creativity alive and well again in our country? This is the way to get it done. There is no reason that we can't be working more closely with our students, teaching them in the classroom, leaning on our universities, our national laboratories, to be able to partner up with our businesses and show them how to do things better, how to use less energy, how to take these products to market better and how to build them right here in the good old U.S. of A.

We talked a little about vehicles. Now as we transition and we are investing in these technologies where we have hybrids and plug-ins, we need to look to see how we can do better here in this country as well. And that's something where I'm encouraged where a little more people are talking about how even natural gas can be used in our vehicles, which burns a lot less carbon, but is abundant in different parts of our country that can go into our vehicles.

Now it's being smarter about the way we do things, and it's using technology a little differently; and it allows us to be able to not have to depend on foreign sources of oil while we're getting there. And those investments will be used in electric vehicles and hybrids and making sure we are making these technologies available to everyone. And it is just so exciting because as I go home and I talk to our national laboratories and I talk to businesses. I have seen an opportunity now where we can maybe build and retrofit a refinery back in New Mexico to have a biofuel refinery.

These are exciting things that we can do to put people to work, to bring people back to work and to even show this technology off to the rest of the world.

It's happening right here at home. And it's only going to continue, though, if we make these investments and we get more people on board and the people around us, people all across America realize that this is something that we can do. It's a job starter. It's a job creator. And it's really where we need to go as a country to get back in front of everything.

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Mr. LUJÁN. Mr. Tonko, well said. As we talk about what this has to offer the country, where we can go from here and how we can learn from some of the mistakes that were made in the past, you know, this notion of the over $4 a gallon gasoline and up to $4.50 and $5 that we saw recently, not too long ago--we saw what was happening and how we're creeping, yet the investments weren't made.

Now, those that are critical of the President and of this Congress for making investments that are going to make a difference tomorrow so that we're solving these problems, we don't have the dependence on these foreign sources of oil; we're going to take the latest and greatest, the scientists, the smartest people, the individuals that are starting their own businesses, those contractors, the tradespeople, the builders, and bring everyone together to do it better, to do it smarter. I don't understand it, why there are still those that don't think these are good ideas.

We talked a lot about the space program. Now let's put this into perspective. When we won the space race here in the United States and we developed the technologies that enabled us to win that space race, solar panels were part of that. And where are we now, Mr. Tonko? With the rest the world, falling behind when it comes to solar technology, to using it and integrating it into everyday use. Now this is a technology that we developed here that enabled us to win the space race and generate the power needed to keep the men that were in space safe and get them back home. We can use it to power our homes. We can use it to diversify the way that we generate power for the country. We can use it to create jobs. We can use it to develop more and more exciting, innovative ways of looking at the way we do things. And, as you so eloquently put it, talking about nanotechnology; building things smaller and smaller, where we have been able to do this with the way that we use computers now, where they use less energy; the phones that we use.

All the technology that has come out of what we achieved with the space race, and how we in the country have fallen behind now--that's what we're talking about here. It's investing in America. It's staying ahead of the curve here. It's making sure that we provide the best education for our kids, that we're making this commitment in science and technology and engineering and math, and that we're keeping it here to build the things here, to build these components, to create these jobs back here at home. That's what we're talking about here. And I just hope that more and more of our colleagues, Democrats, Republicans, independents, that we can come together to make this investment in America, because we can't afford not to.

We have always been leaders when it comes to innovation. Now let's take that leap, let's take that step, and let's make that commitment to invest in America, invest in ingenuity, create these jobs, and do things better and smarter for tomorrow.

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Mr. LUJÁN. Mr. Tonko, I'm glad that you're reminding everyone watching today that these job losses and what's happening with the economy and the deficit, that this just didn't happen 3 weeks ago or 3 months ago or even 6 months ago. That this is something that was developing and building.

We're going to hear those that say we can't invest in the country when it comes to clean energy, we can't do this, we can't do that. Well, I say to them: We can't afford not to. We're going to continue to hear how others want to scare the American people and don't want to see this President succeed or this Congress succeed in investing in America. We need to do things better here. And I know, Mr. Tonko, we're both new to Congress. But when it comes to putting the American people first and remembering why we came here and continuing to invest in this great Nation of ours to make it stronger and better and providing an environment where we can let people that want to start a business, start a business; where we invest in that science and that ingenuity and that creativity which allows them to do it, that's what we can do.

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