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Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. FLORES. Mr. Chairman, I rise to offer an amendment which addresses another misguided and restrictive Federal regulation.

Section 526 of the Energy Independence and Security Act prevents Federal agencies from entering into contracts for the procurement of fuels unless their life-cycle greenhouse gas emissions are less than or equal to emissions from an equivalent conventional fuel produced from conventional petroleum sources.

The initial purpose of section 526 was to stop the Defense Department's plans to buy and develop coal-based or coal-to-liquid jet fuel. This restriction was based on the opinion of some environmentalists that coal-based jet fuel might produce more greenhouse gas emissions than traditional, petroleum-derived fuels.

My amendment is a simple fix, and that fix is to not restrict our fuel choices based on extreme environmental views, bad policies, and misguided regulations like those in section 526.

Placing limits on Federal agencies' fuel choices is an unacceptable precedent to set in regard to America's petroleum independence and our national security. Mr. Chair, section 526 restrictions make our Nation more dependent on unstable Middle Eastern oil. Stopping the impact of section 526 will help us promote American energy, improve the American economy, and create American jobs. In addition, and probably most important, we must ensure that our military has adequate fuel resources and that it can rely on domestic and more stable sources of fuel.

With increasing competition for energy and fuel resources and with the continued volatility and instability in the Middle East, it is now more important than ever for our country to become more energy independent and to further develop and produce all of our domestic energy resources.

In some circles, there is a misconception that my amendment somehow prevents the Federal Government and our military from being able to produce and use alternative fuels. Mr. Chair, this viewpoint is categorically false. All my amendment does is to allow Federal purchasers, particularly our military, to be able to acquire the fuels that best and most efficiently meet their needs.

I offered a similar amendment to the CJS appropriations bill for FY 2013, and it passed with strong bipartisan support. My identical amendments to four other FY 2013 appropriations bills also each passed by voice vote. My friend, Mr. Conaway, also had language added to the defense authorization bill to exempt the Defense Department from this burdensome regulation.

Let's remember the following problems with section 526: one, it increases our reliance on unstable Middle Eastern oil; two, it hurts our military readiness, our national security and our energy security; three, it prevents the increased use of some sources of safe, clean and efficient American oil and gas; four, it hurts American jobs and the American economy; five, last and certainly not least, it costs our taxpayers more of their hard-earned dollars.

My amendment fixes those problems. I urge my colleagues to support the passage of this commonsense amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. Flores offered the same amendment to each fiscal year 2012 appropriations bill, and all were accepted by a voice vote. Also, each fiscal year 2013 appropriations bill that has already passed the House includes this amendment. All passed by voice vote, with the exception of CJS, which had a rollcall and a positive vote of over 250 votes ``yes.'' Fifteen Democrats supported the amendment.

Mr. Conaway offered an amendment to the FY13 Armed Services Committee bill which has the same effect. The amendment was accepted into the House bill. This obviously is a very popular amendment, and I'm happy to be supportive of it.

I yield back the balance of my time.

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Mr. FLORES. All my amendment does is remove any external restrictions from the Department of Defense being able to acquire fuels. It doesn't restrict their ability to acquire alternative fuels, such as the Green Fleet.

Now, I have issues with paying $56 a gallon for fuel, but I'm willing to battle that at a future date. I'm not endorsing the use of those expensive fuels. I think they're irresponsible uses of taxpayer funds when the purpose of the military is to defend our country, not to be trying to promote alternative fuels.

Mr. GARAMENDI. Reclaiming my time, sir, in listening to your discussion about the coal-based fuels, clearly those are in the development stage; they're not yet in place. I would assume that in the development stage, the U.S. military would be purchasing those for the purposes of testing as well as providing an early market, a development market, for those fuels. Therefore, I would assume that that same logic would apply to other kinds of biofuels, would it not?

I yield to the gentleman.

Mr. FLORES. The logic applies. But again, I think it's an order of magnitude.

For instance, technology to do coal-to-liquids fuels was used by the Germans in World War II. It's been tried in the past. It's still not cost effective. I think there's an order of magnitude. For instance, if the military can do it for, let's say, 50 percent more than it costs for conventional fuel, that's one thing; but if it has to pay 10 times more for biobase fuels, that's another issue.

Mr. GARAMENDI. Well, reclaiming my time, and thank you, sir, for the information.

The point here is that in the early development of all of these fuels, whether they are coal-based or other kinds of biofuels, there is a higher cost in the early stages that presumably and hopefully and, in fact, must be reduced if the Navy is to procure those fuels for the normal utilization of their fleet, or whatever the fuel might be used for. Therefore, in listening to your discussion, which I do support, I think it's important to understand that in the early development there is going to be a higher cost which could not and should not carry forward for the normal use of those fuels.

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

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