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Public Statements

Building America's Energy Security

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. REED. I thank the gentleman from North Dakota for yielding and bringing this important issue to us today to have a conversation on.

I am a firm believer in the all-of-the-above approach to our energy needs of America. Making energy in America domestically will lead to us being energy secure. It's about energy independence. It is about developing our resources, both fossil fuels in the short term and mid term, but always keeping an eye on the alternatives and renewables for the long term so that we create a portfolio of an all-of-the-above that will ensure that America's national security is taken care of when it comes to our energy needs.

Being from New York, I spent a lot of time dealing with the issue of natural gas development and the Marcellus Shale and Utica Shale formations. I can share with you many stories from farmers as I went through the northern tier of Pennsylvania, which is just over the border from my district in Corning, New York. And I remember one story in particular. I went to a family farm that I was invited to go to by an individual in my district who was opposed to natural gas development. However, when I arrived at that farm, I met with her father, and I sat at her father's living room table and had a conversation about what this meant to that family farmer.

I can tell you what I heard really resonated with me. Because what I heard was, I know that my daughter is opposed to this. She's concerned about the impacts on our farm and that type of thing. But I can assure you I've owned this farm for generations, and I'm going to make sure that my land is protected and it's done right and it's done safely. But what I'm also doing is I'm taking the royalty payment, the cash payment from that resource, and I'm putting her daughter through college.

Think about that, ladies and gentlemen across America. We have spent trillions of dollars on the war on poverty and hardworking taxpayer dollars to try to get people out of poverty--most of the time by educating them. And here you have a gentleman who is going to use a resource that he owned, a property right that he owned, and was empowering the next generation with a college education that that individual did not have to pay for and didn't come out of college with $50,000, $70,000 worth of debt. That's a game-changer when it comes to the war on poverty, in my opinion.

I appreciate the gentleman's comments from before. Because when we talk about this issue, we also have to look at it from many different aspects. And it's not just about being an economic resource in regards to the resource itself but being a resource that re-powers America, as I cochair the Manufacturing Caucus here in Washington, D.C., that gives us the power to start building things here in America again and selling it overseas. That's the America I want to stand for.

If we're going to melt steel, if we're going to have that industrial revolution of the 21st century that I believe we can have, we're going to need power sources to do that. And you can't melt steel, in my opinion, with just windmills and geothermal and solar panels. They have a role in our energy portfolio but you need those fossil fuels that we have been blessed with to come online to provide the power, the utility, and the energy to do what needs to be done in order to build it here and sell it there. So I appreciate the gentleman bringing this issue to the forefront.

And one last point I will stress. As I represent the 23rd Congressional District in New York, we are going through the process of seeing two main coal-fired plants be shut down. And I'm hopeful. We're doing our work in Dunkirk, New York, and Lansing, New York, on the other side of the district, to stand for repowering those power generation facilities with natural gas, as the applications are pending in Albany.

With this war on coal that just came out yesterday from the White House, if you shut down those plants, what I'm concerned about is my taxpayers that I care about in Dunkirk and Tompkins County and Lansing are going to see their real property tax bill go up anywhere from 50 to 60 percent. Those are hardworking Americans that are already under the burden of a tax burden that comes out of Washington, D.C., by way of income taxes. But there are also tax burdens in our States. And one of those primary tax burdens is the real property tax bill.

I'm hearing from seniors, I'm hearing from people across the district who say, Tom, I can't afford it anymore. And you shut down a power plant, and you take away that tax base from my people, the remaining taxpayers, who most of the time have been there for generations, will see their real property tax bill go up 60 percent. That's thousands of dollars. And in this day and age when people are struggling, why would we commit ourselves as a Nation to a policy that would put a higher burden on their back? I don't get it.

I think we should have an open conversation about doing all of the above, recognize where those energy sources are in the portfolios, and then we join hands, we come together, and we develop that comprehensive energy policy that we say, This is good for America, both short term, mid term, and long term. And let's get it done. And that's where those of us on this side beg our colleagues on the other side to join us in this effort. And we want to do it safely, we want to do it responsibly. We respect our environment. But we're going to do it in a commonsense way, looking at it from the perspective of hardworking taxpayers of America, not through the lens of bureaucrats in Washington, D.C.

With that, I appreciate the leadership that the good man from North Dakota has exhibited on these issues.

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