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Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriation Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT

Ms. HIRONO. Mr. Chairman, I rise in support of the Hirono-Chu-Matsui-Lee-Carnahan amendment. This amendment will increase the resources for the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, or ARPA-E.

In 2006, the National Academy of Sciences released a report titled, ``Rising Above the Gathering Storm.'' That report called for the establishment of an Agency focused on energy. That Agency would be modeled after the famous Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA. Congress created ARPA-E in the 2007 America COMPETES Act. That legislation passed the House and Senate with strong bipartisan support.

ARPA-E's purpose is to support research that helps Americans lead a 21st-century clean-energy revolution. This is about generating new ideas and innovations that lead to new jobs, industries, and opportunities. Ideas and innovations are the hallmarks of America's economic success. Names like Benjamin Franklin, the Wright brothers, Thomas Edison, Akio Morita, Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, and others are familiar to us all. They are familiar names across the globe. That's because their ideas led to cutting-edge technologies that were widely adopted and put to use, changing our lives and society for the better.

Some of these bold innovations were far ahead of their time and often succeeded with government support. For example, few know that, without government contracts for airmail, our commercial aviation industry would not have become so successful. It was research supported by both U.S. Government labs and the private sector that gave us the Internet. Most famously, who can forget President John F. Kennedy's call to put a man on the Moon. While this effort was successful from a technological perspective, it also captivated a generation of Americans, inspiring them to think big and think bold.

It is vital to our Nation's future success that we reinvigorate the spirit of innovation. If we do, we can harness the talent of our Nation's people as we continue rebuilding our economy. That's why supporting ARPA-E is so important. ARPA-E awardees are developing the kinds of breakthroughs that will help us break free from the grip of foreign oil and fossil fuels. In the past year alone, ARPA-E has supported research into high-tech electric car batteries. ARPA-E has supported potential breakthroughs in energy-grid technology and algae-based biofuels. These are ideas that could change how the U.S. produces, uses, and transmits energy.

Unfortunately, the bill before us takes a different tack. It actually cuts funding for the research and innovation sponsored by ARPA-E. Instead, it gives even more resources for research into mature energy sources. Last year, fossil fuel R&D received $346 million. The bill before us provides $554 million for fossil fuel R&D. That is a $207 million increase. ARPA-E, on the other hand, gets a $75 million cut in this bill.

My friend Warren Bollmeier, who is the head of the Hawaii Renewable Energy Alliance, once told me:

The path we need to take to energy independence is one where we level the playing field for clean energy.

We all agree that energy independence is a critical national priority. I think we can also agree that we need to take a broad-based approach to getting there. Responsible fossil fuel development must be part of this mix, but so should clean energy, which is what this amendment does.

To increase the resources for ARPA-E, my amendment transfers some funds from the Fossil Fuel Research and Development programs. My amendment does not eliminate fossil fuel R&D. It would merely bring the funding level for this research to the amount requested by the administration. That number was nearly $420 million, and that's still an increase of $73 million from last year.

We know that innovation equals job creation. In fact, in States across the country, we are seeing the advantages of investing in clean-energy research, development, and deployment. We need to keep this forward momentum. In Hawaii, our clean-energy economy is growing. Private sector clean-energy jobs in Hawaii have grown to over 11,000 jobs with double-digit growth expected in the coming year. These firms generate $1.2 billion for our State economy. These are jobs that keep money in our State and can't be outsourced.

At this time of tight budgets, we need to balance our priorities and lay the groundwork for the future. My amendment moves us in that direction. I urge my colleagues to support this amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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