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Domestic Energy

Floor Speech

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Location: Washington, DC


DOMESTIC ENERGY -- (House of Representatives - May 05, 2009)

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Mrs. BIGGERT. I thank the gentleman and I am delighted to be here with Mr. Shimkus.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Shimkus has done so much on energy for so long in the Energy and Commerce Committee and has really brought to the forefront so many innovations and ideas on how we can solve our problems, and also making sure that we do the right thing.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to express my concern about our national energy and environmental future. I am really worried that Congress may soon consider the cap-and-trade legislation in an attempt to move America toward a clean energy economy and decrease our reliance on foreign oil sources.

That sounds good, doesn't it, and the act in its current form will do that, but it will do much worse, and I cannot support a cap-and-trade program that will unfairly penalize small business, industry and taxpayers across the country.

A lot of my constituents get this. I would like to read a short quote from one of my constituents. The gentleman is from Darien, Illinois, and he says: ``I am writing to ask you to vote ``no'' on any cap-and-trade bill that comes up for a vote this congressional session. Cap-and-trade is a huge tax on every American who flips on a light switch or puts gas in their car. Cap-and-trade would do nothing to affect global climate change, but would harm our economy and lead to job losses and higher taxes for all Americans.''

Many estimates exist on job losses and rising electricity prices under a cap-and-trade program. One recent and very conservative estimate suggests that Illinois would lose 48,000 manufacturing jobs by 2020 and see a $1.47 per kilowatt increase in their utility bills. Illinois is 50 percent reliant on nuclear power followed by coal.

For this reason, I think with record unemployment and foreclosures, how can we ask the American people to swallow a huge cost of living increase when they are already struggling to live?

In an apparent trend, the recently passed budget resolution slashed Yucca Mountain funding. This disturbs me. It effectively signaled lack of support for expanded nuclear production, closing the window of opportunity for a waste solution. Taxpayers have already put $16 billion into this mountain to take care of our waste. So this is welcome back to the Carter years when the reprocessing plants that were built here in the United States, six of them, were shut down before they even opened. I think one opened.

Mr. Speaker, there is no silver bullet solution for the future of our national energy supply, but we would be irresponsible to incentivize emission reductions without including supply increase solutions. I think that the U.S. can lead in the environmental performance and production with this policy. I just don't believe that cap-and-trade is an appropriate means of doing that.

We need a combination of technology and increased production of nuclear renewables and fossil fuels. Each have to be a part of the long-term plan for America's energy and environmental security.

I want to focus for a moment on the nuclear. As I said, Illinois is 50 percent nuclear, 20 percent in our country, and there are a lot of permits pending out there for increased nuclear plants. But we need reprocessing to deal with the waste. If you thought of nuclear energy as a log, and you cut 3 percent off this side and 3 percent off of that side of the log, and you put that log, the 3 percent plus the 3 percent and burned it, and then take the other part of the log, which is 94 percent, and put that into the ground as waste, that is what we are doing right now. So we can really increase the capabilities of nuclear and we can reduce the toxicity and we can reduce the longevity of the radioactivity. So this is a no-brainer. I can't understand the Secretary of Energy and the administration suddenly deciding that we put a hold on the recycling process when we have worked so hard and come so far on the research to be ready to do that without nuclear proliferation.

So I think we really have to look at doubling the amount of power generated from zero emission nuclear power by 2030; and, more importantly, we need to begin nuclear fuel recycling and incentivize interim storage to get us there. Recycling reduces the volume of that, and it is clean and it is safe. And then utilizing technology to transition to a low carbon transportation system is another way we can dramatically decrease petroleum use and reduce emissions.

Lithium batteries in fuel-cell technology, like those being developed in Illinois at Argonne National Lab in my district, will transform both the auto manufacturing sector and help America recapture the domestic battery manufacturing base.

I currently serve as the co-Chair of the High Performance Building Caucus, and each month we hear from a business or an association about the technology, a service that offers a solution for improving commercial and residential building efficiency. Forty percent of the emissions in this country come from existing building infrastructure. So retrofitting existing buildings or utilizing technology in new building construction can serve a variety of things. There are so many things that we can do. We need everything to cut out the CO2 and the other gas emissions that cause so many problems.

Illinois is almost exclusively dependent on nuclear power followed by coal, so we cannot afford the price spikes that would follow a cap-and-trade plan, especially without the increased power production.

I hope that leadership on both sides of the aisle remember to put their constituents first when it comes to considering climate legislation and allow technology and the market to pave the way for emission reductions.

I thank the gentleman for holding this Special Order. I think it is a great benefit that we continue to discuss this issue. I hope that we can all work together to really solve this. Cap-and-trade will not do it.

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