Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriation Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:  Rodney Frelinghuysen
Date: June 1, 2012
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I do appreciate the passion of both of these gentlemen for coastal restoration. I know it's a high priority for his district and his State. Of course, the focus is Louisiana, and they have suffered greatly.

The bill before us includes $10 million to continue studies, engineering, and design work on various components of their program in Louisiana. That is more than 9 percent of the entire investigations account dedicated to continuing work on coastal restoration in Louisiana.

The committee has had to make some tough choices in this bill, though. While overall funding for the Corps of Engineers has increased slightly above the President's request, unfortunately, it is reduced by 4 percent from fiscal year 2012. The construction account, specifically, is also slightly above the President's budget request, but that is still a reduction of almost 13 percent from fiscal year 2012.

The Corps has numerous projects already under construction that were not included in the President's budget and so are unlikely to be funded in fiscal year 2013. While construction funding is trending downward, I believe it is most prudent to prioritize funding for ongoing projects so they can be completed, actually completed, and the Federal Government can realize the public safety, economic and other benefits from previous spending rather than starting new projects.

Given this particular project as currently authorized approaches $2 million and likely will continue to grow in costs, it would not be prudent to begin another new major new project while we have so many existing commitments.

For these reasons, I must oppose the amendment and urge my colleagues to vote ``no.''

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I understand the gentleman, my colleague from New Jersey, is trying to show support for the Army Corps of Engineers' construction program. He's been a longtime advocate for projects important to his district, and I commend him for that.

And I agree with him in his desire to invest more in water resources infrastructure. There have been numerous flood control needs, for instance, across the entire country, including our home State of New Jersey. Experience has shown us that it's cheaper to try to prevent flood damages than trying to recover from them.

Although I believe the underlying bill that we've put together--Mr. Visclosky and I--struck a careful balance among all priorities in the bill, including national security and innovation, I do not have any objection to his amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, let me commend the gentleman from Iowa for his strong advocacy and passion for his district and his State and his constituents. First and foremost, he's very, very concerned about a critical issue.

We all know that there are significant water resource needs across our country, and we're doing our best in our bill to address them responsibly. The clarification I would like to be make is that the amendment simply adjusts overall account numbers. It does not direct funding to any specific project.

I would advise, respectfully, the gentleman and any other colleagues thinking of offering similar amendments--and we understand why people do; because they have a passion--that under the earmark ban, the final bill will not include funding towards specific projects in an amount above the President's budget request.

Instead of listing specific projects, our bill includes additional funding for categories of ongoing projects, primarily navigation and flood control. Final project-specific allocations will be made by the administration following the enactment of our bill.

With that clarification in mind, I'm pleased to support the gentleman's amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I rise to oppose the gentlewoman's amendment. I appreciate my colleague's passion for solar energy. She has been a tireless supporter of American innovation in this energy and technological area. I also have the pleasure of serving with her on the Defense Appropriations Committee, and she's been an innovator and promoter of responsible energy policy with the Department of Defense as well.

But within tight budgets, we need to focus funding on our highest priorities, which is what we've done in our Energy and Water bill. To make room for our national security and infrastructure responsibility, our bill cuts energy efficiency and renewable energy by $428 million and reprioritizes funds within the program to support American manufacturing and address rising gas prices. The focus is on jobs, the economy, and American manufacturing.

Our bill also preserves $155 million for solar energy research that continues to advance American manufacturing and helps our companies compete globally. While I support activities that help American manufacturers compete, we cannot afford to add unnecessary funds to solar energy by cutting other important priorities.

Indeed, the amendment would cut departmental administration, a cut that we all know simply cannot be sustained in the final appropriation without jeopardizing the Department of Energy's ability to run and oversee their operation. They have enough management problems now. Reducing that management amount would make it difficult for them to run and oversee the problems that they really need to oversee.

So this amendment uses money we simply do not have. It has perhaps the effect of crippling management by the Department. We need to live within our means. And I, regretfully, oppose the gentlewoman's amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Mr. Chairman, I rise very reluctantly to oppose the amendment. I do recognize the passion of the Members of Congress from Illinois and South Dakota who have spoken, and I may say repeatedly spoken and advocated to me over the last couple of months on behalf of the high-energy physics program and national laboratories in their congressional districts and, in fact, all relevant national laboratories that play a critical role in maintaining our Nation's scientific leadership and competitiveness. So I recognize their advocacy, I appreciate it, and I certainly will be working with them to do whatever we can to be of assistance.

We tried our very best in our bill to help those and all of the Department's remarkable national laboratories, but our constraints did not afford us the luxury of bringing more money to the table in many cases. Many labs wanted money, and these are remarkable labs, and they are deserving as well.

We did what we could for high-energy physics by shifting $16 million into project engineering and design for the Long Baseline neutrino experiment. This allows the Department to move quickly in choosing a path forward for the program.

We also ensured that the Homestake mine, which is a remarkable mine and a remarkable structure and a national asset, has sufficient minimal funding to operate while that path forward is yet to be determined.

If more funding were available, we certainly would have brought more resources to bear. Unfortunately, the amendment finds resources by cutting a program--and we discussed this earlier--that has already been reduced by $428 million. That's a 24 percent reduction from fiscal year 2012 and a 40 percent reduction below 2010.

I recognize--the committee recognizes--the importance of these programs, and I promise we'll work with our colleagues as we move forward in the appropriations process to be supportive and helpful, but I must reluctantly oppose the amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Madam Chairman, I rise to oppose this amendment, which would eliminate the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the Department of Energy.

This year, the committee continued fulfilling its responsibility to reduce government spending by eliminating ineffective and wasteful programs. Our bill cuts EERE by $428 million. That's a 24 percent cut below fiscal year 2012, nearly 40 percent below 2010, and well below the 2000 level. Our bill slashes programs that are ineffective and cuts activities that improperly intervene in private markets.

The committee will continue its work to reduce spending and to keep the government out of private enterprise where private enterprise could make those substantial investments themselves.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I rise to strongly oppose the gentleman's amendment. His amendment would put at risk our nuclear security activities, the things we're doing to modernize our nuclear stockpile, the type of investments we're making there that help protect our country. And we would be adding money to programs that, quite honestly, don't need the money. He referenced some of those programs.

The Weatherization Program has hundreds of millions of dollars in unspent money. Some of it's been obligated; some of it has not been obligated. But sitting in that program and in the State programs he referred to is a lot of Federal money from the stimulus and other prior appropriations that remains unspent. So it's not a question of not having enough money. They just haven't spent it down.

Our bill provides enough funding, new funding, that when combined with the unspent funds, our bill will fully fund each State at the fiscal year 2010 level. That's enough money for the States. More funding is

unnecessary.

This amendment has unnecessary funding, adds unnecessary funding, and it cuts our security, our national security, things we need to do for our nuclear stockpile, and I strongly oppose it.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. I rise to oppose the gentleman from Utah's amendment.

Our bill works hard to cut Federal spending. We're on his side. We want to reduce spending. Our committee has gone through the budget for the Department of Energy. We've taken a look at it, and we've prioritized. In fact, we've already said in other debates on other amendments that we've cut this EERE, Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, by $428 million. That's 40 percent below the fiscal year 2011 level. With the remaining funds, we re-prioritize to invest in our Nation's most pressing needs, one of which is in doing more research to help American manufacturers compete and survive.

Let me restate: We do not increase this account. We re-prioritize to address our Nation's most pressing needs. In this case, the challenge is to keep our American manufacturers competitive and to keep jobs here. Our bill does that. Therefore, I must oppose the gentleman's amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Madam Chair, I rise to oppose the amendment.

The amendment will reduce fossil fuel energy by $50 million. And let's start by noting that fossil fuels produce most of our Nation's energy, nearly 70 percent of our electricity and nearly all of our transportation fuels.

But I do appreciate the gentlewoman's passion for electric vehicles. In fact, our bill already funds research in that area at above the fiscal year 2012 level as part of our focus on programs that address future gas prices. Therefore, I do oppose her amendment. I understand her views and her passion, but I strongly oppose it.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Madam Chair, briefly I rise to oppose the amendment.

I share my colleague's concerns that we should not be funding activities that the private sector should do on its own. That's why our bill cuts 24 percent out of this account, only preserving appropriate Federal activities that are too risky for the private sector to take on alone. The amendment goes too far, undercuts our ability to address gas prices, and therefore I must oppose it.

With that, I yield back the balance of my time.

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