THE ENERGY POLICY ACT OF 2004 -- (Extensions of Remarks - June 18, 2004)
HON. RON KIND
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TUESDAY, JUNE 15, 2004
Mr. KIND. Mr. Speaker, as ranking member of the Subcommittee on Energy and Minerals Resources of the Committee on Resources, I rise, once again, in disappointed opposition to H.R. 4503/H.R. 6.
The bill before us today is nearly identical to the Conference Report on the Energy Policy Act of 2003--absent of any new ideas that would ensure a more secure energy future for America; but with all of the same fatal flaws that would force "mom-and-pop-taxpayer" to fatten the already sizeable bottom line of some of our Nation's largest oil companies and pay for the clean-up of MTBE contaminated groundwater. I won't spend more of Congress' precious time listing all of my objections to this bill, but will simply include the statements I made last year on H.R. 6 for the record.
But let me just say, Mr. Speaker, that there is no question our Nation needs a comprehensive and balanced energy plan-one that weens us off of our shaky strategic dependence of Middle Eastern oil toward more sustainable, cleaner, and renewable sources. Unfortunately, this bill-like last year's budget-busting behemoth-does not get us there.
There are, however, some worthy provisions in these bills that have wide, bipartisan support. So, instead of political grandstanding, I urge the House leadership to separate and pass these important measures.
One such example is the mandatory reliability standards, which would punish utilities who violate rules designed to limit how much electricity can be sold over the Nation's aging power grid. This measure could be perfected and passed by Congress today if it was allowed to be considered separately. The reliability of our Nation's interconnected power grid is critical to our economy and our security, but has been left at risk. In fact, Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham was recently reported as saying "the U.S. power grid is in better shape than before last August's massive blackout but remains vulnerable this summer."
Another widely supported proposal is the renewable fuels standard provision. This measure would increase the requirement that gasoline sold in the United States contain a specified volume of clean-burning ethanol or biodiesel. Under this measure, the annual average volume of renewable fuel additives would incrementally increase, starting at 3.1 billion gallons in 2005 and reaching 5 billion gallons in 2012--two and a half times the current requirement.
The American Farm Bureau has estimated the renewable fuels standard will have a significant economic stimulus tool for rural America by adding $4.5 billion to net farm income; create the need for $5.3 billion in rural capital investments; and create 216,000 new jobs. Ethanol and biodiesel are just two broad-based, diversified, environmentally friendly energy products American agriculture can produce. I have long stated that empowering U.S. farmers to assume a greater role in producing renewable fuels is a win-win situation deserving congressional support. Unfortunately, even though this provision has the consensus approval of Republicans and Democrats alike, House leadership has steadfastly refused to move it separately.
Mr. Speaker, I urge Members to oppose this bill and immediately move to work bipartisanly to pass these widely supported, and much needed provisions.