Happy birthday, everyone! On July 4, 1776, brave and determined patriots declared our independence from Britain, and the greatest democracy in the world was born. Today, we face many challenges as a nation, but the fires of freedom continue to burn brightly. God bless you. God Bless America. And thank you for the privilege of serving you!
Today, I wanted to briefly update you on a couple of environmental and energy issues, which are important to our area.
Last December, dozens of students, teachers and administers from Saul Martinez Elementary School reported a mysterious odor plaguing the Mecca community. This caused a great deal of concern for the students, their families, the school staff, and our entire community. Clearly, our schools should be a safe haven for learning, not places plagued by mysterious and potentially dangerous pollutants.
On January 19, I was the first elected official to write to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), requesting help in identifying the source of the odor, possible health implications and what steps needed to be taken to resolve the problem.
I'm pleased to report that after an extensive investigation, the EPA identified the emitting source -- an outdoor soil recycling plant operated by Western Environmental Inc. -- and ordered them to stop receiving waste and implement an odor management plan. I was recently assured by the EPA that they will continue to work with the Cabazon Tribe (since the plant is located on tribal land), as well as state and local agencies involved in this issue to prevent similar instances from reoccurring.
I'm grateful to other elected officials that joined this cause, and more importantly, to the community members that fought to raise awareness to combat this problem. It was encouraging to see the EPA respond to our call for action and take steps to address the problem. I look forward to continuing my efforts to protect the air quality and environment in our community.
You may also have heard recently about the President's plan to release 30 million barrels of oil from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a decision he made to help ease disruptions in the supply chain. Although the move may temporarily lower prices at the pump, I believe it is a short-sighted gesture that is no substitute for a real, comprehensive national energy plan. It also threatens our ability to respond to real emergencies in the future.
Instead of band-aid fixes, we need to dramatically increase energy production here at home. It's time for an "all-of-the-above" approach to energy that includes more American-produced oil, natural gas, coal and nuclear, along with alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, hydropower and geothermal. This will drive down prices, create new American jobs, reduce our dangerous dependence on foreign oil and strengthen our national security.
Just last week, House Republicans advanced a bill from the Energy and Commerce Committee, on which I serve, that would expedite a final decision on the Keystone XL Pipeline, bringing 1.3 million barrels of Canadian oil into the U.S. per day. Simply put, this would dwarf the short-term effect of releasing oil from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. In addition to helping hold down future price increases, this critically important project will also produce thousands of American jobs. Economists estimate that construction of the pipeline alone could produce over 100,000 jobs.
And finally, earlier this year, the House passed three other domestic energy bills that would create over 1.2 million jobs and raise more than $840 million in tax revenue to help reduce our nation's staggering deficit and put Americans back to work again.
Today, we are at an important crossroads in our nation's history. The way forward is clear: creating new jobs and preserving existing jobs here at home should be our top priority. It will strengthen our economy, reduce the deficit, enhance U.S. competetiveness and ensure prosperity for future generations.