Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriation Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:  Rob Andrews
Date: May 31, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. ANDREWS. I congratulate my colleague from New Jersey and you, Mr. Visclosky, for your very diligent and focused work on this bill. I know it was difficult.

Mr. Chairman, we thank these Members for their leadership.

Today, the people of the United States sent about $1 billion overseas to countries from whom we bought imported oil. This is $1 billion that could have been spent to employ American construction workers, to give more activities to American research scientists, to reward the investment of American entrepreneurs, and to create domestic energy and American jobs here in the United States.

One of the most effective ways to create a nearly $200 billion annual stimulus program paid for entirely by private sector dollars and not by government would be to dramatically reduce the amount of oil we import into our country. This is an issue on which I think there is strong agreement. We obviously part company on exactly how to do that, and I think this bill illustrates three of the ways in which there is some disagreement.

Let me begin by thanking the chairman and the ranking member for what I view as a very wise decision to make a funding investment in nuclear waste disposal at the Yucca Mountain facility. This is a very controversial issue, particularly in the other body, but I think that clean and well-managed nuclear energy is a key part of this country's economic future. Sadly, there has been a backpedaling from years of research and investment in the Yucca Mountain facility.

I think that the geological evidence is compelling, and I think that the national security arguments are compelling. I think that the best way for us to dispose of nuclear waste at one site is as isolated from any population center and geologically insulated from any water table that would be nearby. I think that the Yucca Mountain site has been proven to be the right move. I think for unfortunate political situations we've not invested in that.

I commend the chairman and the ranking member for reversing that decision to the extent possible in this bill and for moving forward with the further exploration of that option.

One of the areas of the bill in which I would agree with Mr. Visclosky is somewhat disappointing is its relatively meager investment in alternative renewable energy. Now, I do think, as the President has said and as our Speaker has said, that an all-of-the-above energy independence policy is the right choice for our country. So we must understand that investing in wind or solar or geothermal or hydrogen is not meant to be completely in lieu of more traditional fuels. It's meant to be a supplement and a transition.

I think that the transition here is insufficient for the possibility of powering our country through wind and the growing solar industry. Our State of New Jersey is actually number two in solar energy in the country, which is, I think, a tribute to our innovation given our relative climatological disadvantage relative to other States. There is promising research in hydrogen and other areas. I think that we are being, frankly, somewhat shortsighted and penny-wise and pound-foolish by not making a more robust investment in these areas of alternative energy in this bill, which leads me to my third point.

I understand the justification, not by the subcommittee chairman or the ranking member, but by the budget resolution that was passed. The justification for what I view as an unduly meager investment in alternative energy is because of the budget allocations adopted by the House several weeks ago.

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Mr. ANDREWS. I thank the gentleman.

That budget allocation was short of the agreement that the majority and minority in the House and Senate struck last year on August 1. We've adhered to that agreement in so many other ways. I think the right thing to do is what the other body is likely to do, which is to fund these appropriations bills at levels consistent with that August 1 agreement.

I believe, Mr. Chairman, that we will and should be back in this Chamber at some point this year enacting final legislation that is consistent with that August 1 agreement. That meager increase, that small increase in allocations, would, in my view, go a long way toward funding the wind and solar and hydrogen and other alternative energies that we should be seeking.

Let's continue to try to work together as the authors of this bill have. Let's try to truly have an energy independence policy where, instead of sending $1 billion a day to the Middle East, we are investing $1 billion a day of private sector money in manufacturing, innovation, and economic growth here in the United States. This bill, I think, makes an important step in that direction.

I commend the authors, but look forward to even a better result later in the year when the bill comes back from the other body.

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