ALTERNATIVE ENERGY RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT ACT -- (House of Representatives - September 29, 2006)
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Mrs. BIGGERT. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
I rise today in strong support of H.R. 6203, the Alternative Energy and Research Development Act.
As its title suggests, this bill is designed to advance development of a number of alternative energy technologies by establishing policy goals and focusing research on key technical challenges.
Building on the excellent R&D provisions the Science Committee included in the Energy Policy Act of 2005, or EPACT, H.R. 6203 supports the development of biofuels from cellulose, meaning feedstocks other than corn; biodegradable natural plastics from biomass; technologies for hydrogen storage onboard vehicles; advanced solar technologies that are economical and make solar power cost competitive in a decade; technologies that minimize the cost and environmental impact and maximize the efficiency of harnessing the power of the wind; and advanced battery technologies specifically for plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
In addition to requiring the DOE to continue carrying out the geothermal energy, hydropower distributor and cogeneration research authorized in EPACT, H.R. 6203 supports research to convert coal into pipeline quality gaseous fuels.
The bill also promotes energy conservation in three important ways. First, it provides incentives for the construction of energy efficient buildings. Today's buildings consume 50 percent of the Nation's supply of natural gas and 70 percent of its electricity, more energy than any other sector of the economy, including industry and transportation.
Second, the bill offers grants to States who deploy solar cells and purchase plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.
Finally, it establishes a cooperative extension program to encourage the use of advanced energy technologies patterned after the successful agricultural extension programs that aided farmers in incorporating advanced technologies and food production.
H.R. 6203 is a modified version of H.R. 5656, which was approved by the Science Committee in July. Like most bills that emerge from the Science Committee, H.R. 6203 represents a compilation of great ideas from a number of members of the committee, including my colleagues from Texas, Lamar Smith and Mike McCaul. And I would especially like to thank the ranking member, Mr. Gordon, for his leadership and his additions to the bill. The bill was further perfected in committee by Representatives Ralph Hall, Doris Matsui, Lynn Woolsey, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Eddie Bernice Johnson, Ken Calvert, Al Green, Brian Baird, and Brad Miller. I want to thank my colleagues on the committee for their contributions. H.R. 6203 is the product of a truly bipartisan effort.
Mr. Speaker, high natural gas prices and the summer spike in gasoline prices serve as a stark reminder that the path to energy independence is a long and arduous one.
To make significant progress down this path requires a steadfast commitment from Congress and the Federal Government to support the development of advanced energy technologies and alternative fuels that will help end our addiction to oil and gasoline.
The bill we are considering today would do just that in a fiscally responsible way. In some cases, it gives new direction to research funding authorized in EPACT. In others, the House already has appropriated funds for the programs.
I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 6203.
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Mrs. BIGGERT. Before I close, Mr. Speaker, I would like to insert in the RECORD an exchange of letters between the Committees on Science and Education and the Workforce.
Committee on Education and the Workforce, House of Representatives, 2181 Rayburn House Office Building,
Washington, DC, September 29, 2006.
Hon. SHERWOOD BOEHLERT,
Chairman, Committee on Science, 2320 Rayburn HOB, Washington, DC.
DEAR CHAIRMAN BOEHLERT: I am writing to confirm our mutual understanding with respect to consideration of H.R. 6203, to provide for Federal energy research, development, demonstration, and commercial application, activities, and for other purposes. Education provisions in Section 12 of the bill as introduced are within the jurisdiction of the Committee on Education and the Workforce.
Given the importance of moving this bill forward promptly, I will not request the referral of H.R. 6203 to the Committee on Education and the Workforce. However, I do so only with the understanding that this procedural route should not be construed to prejudice the Committee on Education and the Workforce's jurisdictional interest and prerogative on these provisions or any other similar legislation and will not be considered as precedent for consideration of matters of jurisdictional interest to my Committee in the future.
Finally, I ask that you include a copy of our exchange of letters in the Congressional Record during the consideration of H.R. 6203. If you have questions regarding this matter, please do not hesitate to contact me.
Howard P. ``Buck'' McKeon,
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE,
Washington, DC, September 29, 2006.
Hon. HOWARD P. ``BUCK'' McKEON,
Chairman, Committee on Education and the Workforce, 2181 Rayburn House Office Building, Washington, DC.
DEAR MR. CHAIRMAN: Thank you for your letter regarding the consideration of H.R. 6203, the Alternative Energy Research and Development Act. I appreciate your waiving your Committee's right to a referral on this bill so that it can move expeditiously to the floor.
I recognize your Committee's jurisdiction over education provisions in Section 12 of the bill and will support any request you may make to have conferees on H.R. 6203 or similar legislation. The exchange of letters between our two committees will be included in the Congressional Record when the bill is considered on the floor.
Thank you for your attention to this matter.
Mr. Speaker, yesterday's headlines announced that the national average price of gasoline dropped another 12 cents in the last week, the seventh straight week that gasoline prices have fallen. That is certainly good news for the American consumer in the U.S., and businesses.
However, we cannot allow ourselves to be lulled into a sense of complacency whenever the price of gasoline drops. We have to face the fact that we cannot meet today's energy needs, much less tomorrow's, with yesterday's energy infrastructure and technology. We must reduce our reliance on expensive natural gas and Mid-Eastern oil and instead encourage the use of clean, efficient alternatives like solar, wind, hydrogen, and biofuels. These advanced energy technologies offer the best hope for diversifying energy supplies. They can improve efficiency. They can promote conservation. And perhaps most importantly, they can bring us ever closer to ending our reliance on Mid-Eastern oil.
I want to thank the staff who worked so hard to bring this bill to the floor today, including Bill Koetzle in the Speaker's office and Michael Ference in the majority whip's office. And I want to thank the staff of the Science Committee for all their hard work on this bill and the many others we have worked on together over the past years. And particularly I want to commend David Goldston for his tireless efforts on behalf of the committee and its chairman. Both he and my good friend, Chairman Boehlert, will be missed.
Again, I urge my colleagues to support H.R. 6203.