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Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriation Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. VISCLOSKY. I also want to add my voice to the chair's in opposition to the gentleman's amendment. We just had a colloquy on the House floor with several Members from the State of Pennsylvania relative to the fate of 230 lock chambers on our inland waterways that carry hundreds of millions of tons of cargo. If they fail, we would need, as has already been mentioned this morning, 24 million additional trucks, which would cost billions more in fuel and generate millions of tons of pollution. These locks that are the backbone of this Nation's inland waterway system were built with a 50-year design life. Many of those that exist in western Pennsylvania are now over a hundred years old.

Relative to cuts, I want to emphasize to our colleagues that there was a lot of work that the chairman, the members of this subcommittee, and the staffs put into this bill to make very discreet, discerning decisions, and in many instances, to make cuts. I would take simply one program as an example: environmental cleanup.

We have, again, a national responsibility to clean up these legacies of the Cold War for the health and safety of 300 million people. But we made discreet decisions. For defense environmental site-by-site decisions, for example, on the Office of River Protection in the State of Washington, we are $30 million below last year's level. For the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in the State of Tennessee, we're $20 million below last year's level. For the Savannah River site in South Carolina, we are $43 million below in the current year level. For the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant we are $12 million below last year's level. And for technology development, to do a better job on this, we're $1 million below. We made discreet decisions.

I would simply close by saying that the gentleman at the close of his remarks said that he wants this cut to take us back to where we were. Those locks were built a hundred years ago. I don't want to go back there. We are here to take this Nation forward and to invest in the future of this Nation so that the young people of this Nation have a future. I do not want to go back to where we were.

I am adamantly opposed to the gentleman's amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. VISCLOSKY. I would simply note that what the gentleman from Oregon proposes is a commonsense approach to ensuring the highest ethical standards for companies that receive a contract with the DOE's Office of Fossil Energy. We should not be rewarding companies that have a history of predatory economic practices with Federal contractors.

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Mr. VISCLOSKY. I also rise in opposition to the gentleman's amendment. We need to move away from our dependency on fuel imported by unfriendly nations. I have in past debates on this floor, and I would do it again, referenced the senior Senator from Indiana, Senator Lugar, who has long characterized our energy crisis paramount, as one of national security, given where those petroleum purchases take place. The fact is, if we can get more miles per gallon, we have solved part of that national security crisis.

None of us today standing here or sitting here are going to be able to do much about the price of a barrel of oil. But if each one of those individual drivers can get some relief by getting an extra mile per gallon for their vehicle, we have also helped ameliorate their economic pressure and the costs that they have.

I think it is shortsighted to eliminate this program which has the potential to address a major issue in the viability and practicality of electric vehicles, and that is the battery. We need to be looking at the cost, performance, life, and abuse tolerance of batteries, and I do support the Department's efforts on this front and have been active for a number of years in seeking additional funds for it because I think it does a great value to this country's future.

I oppose the gentleman's amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. VISCLOSKY. I appreciate the gentleman yielding.

I believe that there is a proper role for government where there is no private organization willing or able to fill an information need, and information is vital if we are going to improve our energy policy.

This program provides a venue at a very modest cost to the taxpayers to disseminate valuable information that supports the diversification of the Nation's energy supply.

While I do appreciate the gentleman from Arizona's efforts to search out sources of wasteful and inappropriate spending, I disagree that this program is one of those instances and join my colleague from Washington in opposition to the amendment.

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Mr. VISCLOSKY. I appreciate the gentleman yielding very much. And I think the only other thank-you I would add, and I would very sincerely join the chair in all of the recognitions that he has enumerated, is the Chair, herself, as well as all of those others who have served us over the last 4 days and done a very expeditious job.

I cannot thank the chairman enough for all he has done for us and for this country and for being the consummate gentleman. It is a privilege and a delight to work with you, as well as the other members of the subcommittee.

I would point out that, while we agree very substantively on this bill, there are degrees of differences. We did not, in the intervening last 4 days, agree on every amendment, but we had reasoned and thoughtful debate. We had votes, and decisions were made.

It is a profound privilege that people like Chairman Frelinghuysen, Mr. Dicks, and I have serving this country in this Congress. I am an institutionalist, and this is a perfect example of how that institution should work: to meet collectively, to resolve our differences, and to work as hard as we can to hopefully, in fiscal year 2013, leave this country a little bit better.

Again, thank all of the people, and particularly the staff and the Chair for all their good work.

I appreciate the chairman for yielding.

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