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Public Statements

Infrastructure Jobs and Energy Independence

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. COSTA. Thank you very much. I thank the gentleman from Pennsylvania for his explanation of what truly is a bipartisan effort.

Mr. Speaker, I do rise, like my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, to support H.R. 1861, titled the Infrastructure Jobs and Energy Independence Act of 2011.

Those of you who are watching on C-SPAN, take note: this is a bipartisan effort. It's the kind of thing I think most of you in this country want us to do in Congress every day. This measure--and the four important points to note that we all concur in and what America wants us to do is provide us a path to energy independence, it revitalizes our Nation's transportation, water infrastructure and other investments in our infrastructure that equal jobs, jobs, and jobs. It reduces the deficit with no new taxes, and it is a bipartisan effort, one that is supported on both sides of the aisle.

Several years ago, I joined with my colleagues from both sides to develop this sensible energy policy that acknowledges the challenges for our Nation's energy, both in the short term, the near term, the medium, and the long term, over the next 20 years. Similar to what we have done in previous Congresses, we formed this bipartisan energy working group, which includes my colleagues, Representative Tim Murphy, who just spoke, Congressman Tim Walz, Congressman Bill Shuster, and myself and other Members whom you will hear talk about why we feel this is the path we ought to pursue.

The Infrastructure Jobs and Energy Independence Act was developed by Members who are speaking here today, sitting down and talking to one another--not by lobbyists. We hammered this plan out over a period of months, having worked off of previous efforts in legislation that was introduced in previous Congresses. This is what's needed in Washington, and unfortunately, too often, it doesn't happen--the art of the political compromise. These aren't Republican or Democratic ideas, these are simply good, commonsense ideas that put America's energy future first.

Time and time again, I see too many Members rising on the House floor focusing on their talking points, giving the stump speeches. That's nice, but it doesn't comport with the reality of the challenges we face today in many instances. This legislation, however, does. Sound bites like ``drill baby drill'' or ``use it or lose it'' may sound good to certain constituencies, but I do not believe they constitute an energy policy.

This legislation, H.R. 1861, constitutes a real energy policy over the next 20 years. Let me talk about what this measure would do to enhance our path. First, it would expand domestic energy production on the Outer Continental Shelf. Secondly, it would advance alternative energy, including wind, solar, biomass, wave, geothermal, and other clean alternatives. Third, it would rebuild our Nation's roads, bridges, dams, water, and sewer systems--that, as Congressman Murphy indicated today, is estimated to have a pricetag of over $900 billion. Fourth, it would develop clean coal energy technology, which we have an abundance of supply in. Fifth, it would develop ways in which we can finance nuclear energy technologies. Sixth, it would expand the use of energy-efficiency products and alternative fuel vehicles. Seventh, it would restore and protect our Nation's wildlife refuges, national parks, lakes, and waterways.

And how would it do all this? It would help also to assist in paying off our national debt. Why? Because the funds that we receive for energy on fossil fuels, both onshore and offshore on federal lands, is the second-largest single source of revenue that comes to the United States Treasury outside of the taxes we pay. It's the revenue that we would derive by expanding energy sources onshore and offshore that would go to pay for these efforts.

As a nation, we have to work towards a realistic energy policy. Our economy needs it. We can no longer afford to take any energy sources off the table. And while we tackle these problems, we have to rebuild our aging infrastructure. H.R. 1861 does that by dedicating these funds to that effort without raising taxes. As many of you know, I'm a firm believer in using all the energy tools in our energy toolbox, conventional energy together with renewable resources. A strategy for energy conservation while upgrading our transmission lines will best serve our long-term energy needs.

In closing, I'd like to continue to work with my colleagues on this collaboration. As was noted, since our first energy crisis in 1973, we have had a host of energy plans by previous Congresses and previous administrations. What's different between this and those efforts? I'll tell you what's different. We have not had the ability to get together, in a bipartisan fashion, to agree on one energy policy, stick with it, and implement it over the next 20 years.

H.R. 1861 allows us the path to do that. I look forward to working with my colleagues in a bipartisan effort to ensure that, once and for all, we put America first, put our politics behind us, and introduce--not only this introduction, but to do everything we can to enact H.R. 1861 both in the House and in the Senate and get this to the President's desk.


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