PRESS CONFERENCE WITH REP. NEIL ABERCROMBIE (D-HI); REP. TIM MURPHY (D-PA); REP. JIM COSTA (D-CA); REP. SHELLEY MOORE CAPITO (R-WV); REP. JOE WILSON (R-SC)
SUBJECT: OFFSHORE DRILLING AND RENEWABLE ENERGY RESOURCES
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REP. ABERCROMBIE: Aloha. Good morning, everybody. I'm pleased you're here today.
This is, in some respects, a renewal in more ways than one, not just of energy, but a renewal of the ongoing efforts that began with our good friend, John Peterson, who retired, John Peterson of Pennsylvania, who retired last year and was more than ably substituted for if I could say that with Tim Murphy, who stepped right up with the whole question to join some of us who have been here over the previous, not just months, but years, trying to deal with energy independence.
We're introducing a new version of our bill, energy independence bill, the American Conservation and Clean Energy Independence Act, which is the short version, of course, which is energy independence act.
Our national energy policy has to do three things, reduce the threats to our national security caused by our addiction to foreign oil. This will end dollars leaving the United States for foreign shores. This will give us hundreds of billions of dollars to invest in the United States for alternative and clean energy.
It affirmatively addresses climate change and other environmental risks. This is energy independence. We're not here today providing an alternative to the activities now taking place in the Energy Committee, which have essentially stalled, stalled to the point that the president himself has to come up to Capitol Hill today to speak with the Energy Committee members to see if they can advance what is at best a peripheral aspect of dealing with the whole question of alternative energy and climate change.
We're aiming for comprehensive energy independence, and third, to have an overall positive economic affect especially in this time. This is all paid for. Everything that has been discussed up to this time with regard to energy and all the other bills that are out there, essentially mandates, requires -- I even saw an advertisement the other day where one of the climate change proposals was going to spur investment as if we're going to wear cowboy boots and kick the energy independence horse into moving.
This is all paid for. We are in a new world -- advanced of over where we were with our bill last time because the moratorium on offshore drilling is ended. We have a president who is in favor of clean coal technology and offshore drilling and exploration. So we think we're in an excellent position right now on a nonpartisan basis. We don't call this bipartisan. There's no leadership involved again in our bill. This is entirely member-driven. It is not nonpartisan. There has not been the slightest question of whether or not we have the approval of the ideological sectors of the parties. We have not gone to any interest groups, special interests, private interests, advocacy groups of one kind or another. This comes out of the expertise and determination of the membership itself of the House of Representatives.
We think it parallels similar efforts going on in the United States Senate and we have great confidence that it's going to move forward and become the energy independence bill on the broadest possible basis.
And with that, I would like to introduce to you, Tim Murphy, whose friendship and skill, legislative skill and determination and focus has been a joy, has made it a joy to work with him and a genuine pleasure as a legislator to be able to turn around and shake his hand and call him my friend.
REP. MURPHY: Thank you. Thank you so much.
Thank you and good morning. About half a century ago, let's think about a day that we woke up in America to find the Soviet Union had launched a satellite into space. Although this little silver globe called Sputnik really didn't do much on its own, the impact on America was huge. It woke us up from our post-war complacency at a time we thought everything was going fine only to realize that other countries are going to overtake us quickly with their science, their technology, their education, their motivation if we didn't act.
So America launched its own space program, the Apollo project became America's most ambitious program in our history with that stated goal of putting a man on the Moon and returning him safely, and all this was accomplished in a short ten years. We've accomplished this as a nation through hard work, determination, innovation, that inspired a new generation of scientists, engineers and workers of every stripe and we put America on top. And because of that shared desire, America succeeded.
Well, we're now faced with a new challenge, a challenge to meet the demands of the world to create the energy our nation and planet needs, but to do so in a way that does not destroy our Earth on the way to that goal.
Quite plainly, America needs energy. Our families, our farms and our factories need dependable energy sources to light our homes, power those factories and build our economy. But our world is learning we also need clean energy. Now, regardless of where one stands on the issue about climate change, we all have to agree that we have a shared responsibility to be good stewards of the environment and to leave clean air, clean water and clean land for our children and for generations to come.
We need to harness all of our scientific knowledge to create clean, reliable and dependable energy. This is the Apollo project of our generation, and it will require an even greater commitment, more advanced technology and harder work to get us there.
We know that America has an abundance of energy, but we do not use it well and we certainly don't use it wisely. We have oil, but it's locked underground. We have hundreds of years' worth of coal, but if we do it wrong, it's too dirty to burn. We have nuclear power, but we haven't built a plant in 30 years. We are developing solar and wind power, but they're still inefficient and not available for a base load, and even when we do create energy, we waste massive amounts through an inefficient transportation system, poorly insulated buildings, wasteful appliances and lighting systems and just plain old bad habits.
To meet the energy needs for the next generation, we cannot continue our wasteful ways, polluting the Earth and sending hundreds of billions of U.S. dollars each year to foreign countries that convert our dollars to support terrorism and global unrest. That, by the way, is hundreds of billions of dollars that are drained from our economy and not used for jobs or we can try an alternative. We can use our resources more efficiently, more effectively, to create U.S. jobs and energy independence.
America has had enough of the political delays and is tired and frustrated with the partisan fighting that is not moving our nation any closer to energy independence and clean energy.
What our nation needs is an energy renaissance, one that recognizes we must develop a wide range of energy sources, but with a shared goal of reducing emissions and leaving our planet cleaner.
We must develop clean coal, efficient renewable energy, clean nuclear and responsible use of fossil fuels.
It's time for an energy renaissance that uses U.S. resources to create U.S. jobs for a cleaner USA. But we know that building this bridge to America's energy future will require the largest commitment our nation has ever seen. It's expensive. It's necessary. And it's time that we got to work.
This bipartisan or nonpartisan energy working group made up of Democrats and Republicans with no members of leadership from either side as Neil said, no lobbyists, no special interests, has put together a workable plan for American energy independence that focuses on exploration, conservation and innovation to build this bridge to America's clean energy future, and today, we gather to announce our bill, H.R. 2227, the American Conservation and Clean Energy Independence Act.
Our bill uses American resources to, one, cut our dependence on foreign oil, two, clean up our air, land and water, three, dramatically improve energy efficiency and conservation, four, create over a million new jobs, five, fuel our economy in unprecedented ways and six, do all of this without raising taxes one penny.
This group, made up of myself, Neil Abercrombie of Hawaii, Joe Wilson of South Carolina, Jim Costa of California, Lee Terry of Nebraska, Tim Walz of Minnesota and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia does the following: We use oil and natural gas resources on the outer continental shelf to fund America's energy future. It is estimated that without raising taxes, but just use the standard federal royalties and funds that one can generate from this, we will generate about $2.2 trillion. Of this, we dedicate about 30 percent to go to the host states; they'll share about $660 billion over the years.
They have a lot of work to do if they're going to have these resources off their coast and we recognize that it needs to be funded. There will also be a renewable energy and energy efficiency program and that will be about 20 percent or $440 billion. About ten percent or $220 billion will be used for environmental restoration, about eight percent or $176 billion for conservation, about ten percent to provide grants and guaranteed loans to clean coal, building probably about 40 or more clean coal power plants.
We also have about five percent of the fund or about $110 billion for guaranteed loans for nuclear energy. We also recognize that America has a huge problem with its water and sewer projects, it's about a $300 billion problem for America. We dedicate five percent of this fund or $110 billion to clean up those systems. That has never been done before, and up to this point, Congress has only allocated a few billion a year, which quite frankly at that rate may take 1,000 years to clean up our water systems. We do it in the largest way it's ever been done.
And the federal Treasury will directly get about ten percent or $110 billion from this, not to mention what will come from the other income generated from the million plus jobs from this, and finally, with the LIHEAP program, we dedicate about two percent or $44 billion.
As you can see, this is ambitious. It's huge. It's probably the largest investment that America has ever made in its own infrastructure, but we recognize that if we're going to deal with the issues in this planet and energy, we have to do it in this way.
I now like, if I can, turn it over to Jim Costa of California for his comments.
REP. COSTA: Thank you very much, Tim.
I'd obviously like to thank this bipartisan collection that is representative of those of us who have been a part of this legislation, Congress members Abercrombie and Murphy and Capito and Tim Walz and Joe Wilson and Lee Terry and others who have been part of this effort, I think, reflect really the sort of desire to see a comprehensive energy package that is really trying to use all of the resources in America's energy toolbox.
As the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Minerals on federal lands, I'm pleased to be an original co-sponsor of the American Conservation and Clean Energy Independence Act of 2009 as I was with some of my colleagues in the last Congress, in the 110th Congress, whom we started this effort last summer.
This is common sense. It's PAYGO-neutral and would enhance our path toward significantly, significantly reducing our energy dependence from foreign sources and providing cleaner sources of energy as it relates to America's long-term needs that in part and parcel deals with our national security.
If we want to reduce significantly our dependency on foreign sources of energy, this package is the way to move forward in my opinion. If we truly want to create the sort of robust, renewable energy portfolio, this legislation, the American Conservation and Clean Energy Independence Act is the best vehicle to pursue because it does the following: It increases the production of domestic oil and gas and those are critical resources that we need today. Gas, of course, in California is the energy du jour because of the need for cleaner, burning fuels. But it also increases sources of renewable energy, utilizing the green technologies that the new administration has spoken about and that many of us in Congress are very interested in moving forward on.
It dedicates fixed percentages as Congressman Murphy said, the royalties for conservation programs, environmental restoration projects, renewable energy research and development, clean energy technology research and development, increased development of existing energy resources and energy assistance for those who need it.
These are all the areas, and I'm underlying the points and the percentages that Congressman Murphy made because it's important that we use the portion of royalties in those areas where you have oil and gas-producing states and use that to finance the transition that we're talking about that is so necessary, to finance the diversification and the efficiency that is necessary for America's current energy grid.
America's transportation and electric system needs to move into the 21st century. This legislation will allow that to occur. As a nation, we must put together a viable, common sense energy policy. This legislation does that.
As many of you know, I'm a firm believer in using all the energy tools in our energy toolbox. This legislation utilizes all the energy tools out of our energy toolbox. It uses conventional energy with renewable resources, and most importantly, a strategy to using what our parents taught us a long time ago, which is good old conservation. That's the lowest hanging fruit. In California, almost 20 percent of our energy is based upon renewable and conservation utilization.
So as we create this new comprehensive energy policy to reduce our dependencies, significantly reduce our dependencies on foreign sources of energy in America, I think it's important in the final analysis that we look at what has been lacking over the last 30 plus years since 1973 when we first had our gas lines and President Nixon then announced an effort to pursue a path of energy independence. At that time, I might add, 30 percent of our energy was imported from foreign sources. Today, it's almost 70 percent and every administration since 1973 has attempted to pursue an energy policy that would pursue the goals that we have just outlined and congresses have done the same, and what has been lacking, I'll tell you what's been lacking, trying to come together with a strategy that utilizes all the energy tools in our energy toolbox, finances it and looks at the near-term, i.e., today, over the next ten years, the mid-term over the next 10 to 20 years and the long-term, 20 years and beyond to build this robust renewable energy portfolio.
We have never been able to legislatively with any administration produce a path that, in fact, will get us there. Again, Congressman Murphy talked about the Apollo program where we put a man on the Moon. What is oftentimes forgotten is that when we took on that goal, we didn't start off with the Apollo program, we started first with the Mercury program, to prove that a man could function in space and then we had the Gemini program to determine that we could do docking and that we could do, you know, extravehicular activities in space and then we embarked upon the Apollo program.
This is what has been lacking in a comprehensive energy effort. We come up with oil shale and then we come up with conservation and then we come up with renewables, but we never put all the pieces together in a way in which -- how do we get through the next ten years? How do we get through the next 10 to 20 years and beyond? This legislation does that because it tries to ensure that Americans do what we do best and that is come together as a nation, use our best technologies, use the financing that is available out there to bridge this transition, and at the same time, ensure that over the long term, we do what Americans want us to do, which is in the 21st century, significantly reduce our dependency on foreign sources of energy, create this renewable, robust portfolio that is clean and that spurns our economic growth and uses good old conservation principles to ensure that we use energy wisely.
So I am very proud to be with my colleagues here this morning. I think this legislation strikes the right note in terms of how we put it all together and I look forward to working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to try to make sure that the American Clean Energy Act, the American Conservation and Clean Energy Independence Act of 2009 is successful.
Thank you very much.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Shelley?
REP. CAPITO: I'm Shelley Moore Capito, I represent West Virginia and I'm proud to be here with my colleagues this morning.
I want to thank Congressman Abercrombie and Congressman Murphy for their leadership on this issue.
I'm going to take a bit of a different tact because I think the bill has been very well explained and I think the reasons behind the bill have been very well explained, but I'd like to go back to June or July where we really started this bipartisan working group with Congressman Peterson from Pennsylvania as well, and I think it was spurred on by -- I really feel like a lot of our members felt like it was a stalemate, a mashing of the teeth, a butting of the heads and nobody being able to break through in any kind of partisan or nonpartisan fashion and then the price of gas just skyrocketed and that, I think, is what spurred us on and what really got the American people paying attention to what we were saying as a nonpartisan group, that energy independence is important, conservation is important, using our own domestic resources cleanly and efficiently is important, and that we can simplify this, I think, sometimes we get things so doggone complicated that that's what, I think, is one of the beauties of this concept is that it is a much more simplified and maybe that's because we don't have leadership and special interest in the room with us and we're just simple people. And I think we approach it like regular Americans would try to approach this.
We have an issue here. We need to find a solution, and let's all jump in with -- from our relatively diverse, very diverse parts of the country to try to find a solution. I represent an energy state. We are heavy in natural resources. We want to see that be part of the energy mix, and we all listen to my perspective, as we listened to Joe from South Carolina and Hawaii and California and Pennsylvania -- all the different states have a bit of a different perspective on how it's going to impact them, but also what they can give.
And so I think the politics of this are very good because now it's not $5 a gallon gas, now, it's -- the conservation about climate change and global warming, which is revving the American people up as well. So people are attuned to this. They know that those $4 a gallon gasoline prices that are now down to $2 or $2.10, I think everybody knows in their heart of hearts that there's a possibility that that can go back up into that -- what was a devastating area for a lot of Americans, and we've got to find solutions to make sure that we meet that challenge.
So that's my perspective on this. I'm very, very proud to be a part of this group and I look forward to the discussions as we move forward.
REP. WILSON: And I'm Joe Wilson from South Carolina. I'm honored to be here with my colleagues.
As I see this issue, I am so pleased that we have a positive alternative that's being presented today. I want to commend the leadership of Neil Abercrombie. I'm honored to be on the Armed Services Committee with him and I want to commend Congressman Tim Murphy for his leadership.
As I see the issues that are before us, and again, Jim Costa did a great job describing the bill; this was great, but I also have the perspective of proven technologies that I've seen work and in the state of South Carolina, this particular bill, while promoting conservation, alternative fuels, renewable energy, it also promotes nuclear power. And I'm very grateful in South Carolina; we have a 30- year experience of more than 50 percent of the electrical generation in our state being provided by nuclear reactors. It's been extremely successful, obviously.
We also have the Savannah River national nuclear laboratory, which, again, has such as wonderful, positive record.
So I know that nuclear power should be included as one of the energy sources that can be carbon-free.
Additionally, I'm very grateful to see the initiatives for responsible, environmentally sound drilling for natural gas and oil off the coast. I share the same concerns of Congressman Abercrombie. I represent a district, which has extraordinary hospitality industry. We don't want to do anything that would deter tourists from coming to our communities and being a part of the community.
I am also very familiar that while I represent some of the wealthiest communities in the world at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, I represent some of the poorest communities in North America.
As Shelley was so well pointing out, the cost of gasoline, the people who work in the various industries of our communities, they have to commute. The cost of commuting by people of limited income was not a matter of convenience.
This was catastrophic. I don't want to see that return. We need to address the problems now.
Additionally, I have the perspective, I was deputy general counsel Department of Energy 27 years ago, and I was there promoting battery technology at that time. We've made progress, in fact, I had the first hybrid Ford Escape, I leased it, in the state of South Carolina. I've seen the progress of battery technology. We need to keep promoting that, and that's in the bill.
And I'm so happy to hear, too, a key point about this is no new taxes. This can be done through the different initiatives.
I also want to point out jobs. This immediately creates an extraordinary number of jobs, whether it be in construction, whether the infrastructure, the royalties that would be provided to coastal states such as South Carolina for beach renourishment, environmental cleanup, and so I'm just very enthusiastic about the bill and I want to thank my colleagues for their presentation today.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Any questions?
Q Congressman Abercrombie?
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Yes?
Q Given the internal divisions within your own party on cap and trade -- (inaudible) --.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Yes.
Q As you mentioned in your opening statement, do you think it's time for the Democratic leadership to abandon that effort, at least postpone it, focus on something like -- (inaudible) --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Well, I don't know about abandoning anything. I've been a legislator too long to think about abandonment. I've seen too many -- too many instances of what I call the Lazarus effect, the dead rise and walk again.
So I wouldn't comment on that. But I think what we're trying to do here is be much more comprehensive.
The reason you're having difficulties, whether it happens to be with cap and trade, which is virtually unexplainable, and when it does get explained, nobody wants to do it, and because you have tax implications and revenue implications, again, whether it's that or whether it's whatever is fashionable at the moment, it's all been brought up piecemeal.
This bill is comprehensive, and it's paid for. This bill goes to energy independence and keeps dollars and investment in this country. This bill gives us jobs, American jobs, and leads us toward security, national security in its most fundamental sense. Everybody understands that. Everybody can comprehend it, therefore, legislatively; we think it's going to have enormous appeal. This is a genuine strategy. Everything else is tactical.
Q So what you're saying is you don't think the public's there yet, on cap and trade?
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Can you explain it? I'm not being provocative to you. Can you explain it? Can you explain it to your mom?
I had a conversation with my wife about it. She said, "Okay, what's the cap and trade," to which I -- you know, I don't need to go very far in my household to get an environmental perspective. Okay? I need only to wake up.
So what's cap and trade? And after about 25 or 30 seconds of this, she said, "You're trading pollution." That ended that. And she said, "Who's going to do the trading?" I said, "The same people who brought you the subprime mortgages."
Understand what I'm saying about tactics? No, these tactics -- we have to come up with a strategy, and, you know, I understand the struggle that's going on right now, the legislative struggle. We want to get away from the margins. We want to get away from the esoteric. We want to get down to the nitty-gritty that can be understood by our constituents and understood by everybody in a political sense.
When you're explaining, you're losing. This bill doesn't have to be explained. This bill is understood instantly.
The details, people will leave to those of us who have the legislative responsibility. That's what we're elected for is to exercise judgment and responsibility.
Everybody -- every single constituent here, regardless of Republican or Democrat, regardless of the energy situation in their particular states, will understand instantly what we're talking about.
REP. MURPHY: I might add to that, too, that one of the things that happens with those bills in Congress that is dealing with and I serve on the Energy and Commerce Committee, is whether it's cap and trade, a carbon tax or something that's taxing something and putting that money somewhere else, we don't do that.
The thing that makes the logical sense in our bill is we keep the money in cleaning things up, and so when we have discussed this with other groups out there, certainly those who build the power plants understand this is jobs to build them, as opposed to hoping that something trickles back, and environmental groups understand that all those other issues with regard to reducing emissions, there is no money to go toward any of that.
This puts the largest amount of money in the largest building project in American history, really, toward actually cleaning up these plants and our coasts and our water and everything else you can put in there that's been a concern for the American public.
Q (Off mike.)
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Because all this is a work in progress, obviously. It all has to be discussed. The fact that the president and the administration are having to engage in those kinds of discussions proves our point. We need to have a comprehensive plan that is paid for, and where every penny is directed towards the object at hand, which is energy independence. We believe this is the cleanest bill out there, no pun intended, jurisdictionally speaking. We're trying to keep this in the Resources Committee and see to it that it's just -- all policy is handled that way, so that when it comes to Ways and Means, when it comes to those who have to decide on grants, tax -- tax questions or the tax legislation itself and so on, it's all related to policy. Everything is coherent and internally consistent.
Q It's -- I mean, it sounds like from what everybody is saying -- (inaudible) --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: No, no, no. Please. Please. Let's not get into -- the Waxman and Markey bill or the energy bill, it's just the latest of a whole series of different things that have come up -- wind energy, a solar focus. What are we going to do about natural gas? Everything has come up piecemeal.
Quite the contrary, the latest energy bill that came up, or the latest aspect of it, cap and trade, follows us. We're the ones that put in the comprehensive bill last year and we've made terrific progress since then. The moratorium on offshore drilling is gone. The -- we have a president who has indicated publicly already and indicated during his campaign that he was open on the question of clean coal technology, that he was open on the question of utilizing our resources offshore.
So we are now consolidating what we've already done. So this is not an alternative. They're presenting a tactical alternative, which is marginal to what we're trying to accomplish. It has nothing to do with energy independence as such. It's all an internal tactical move with regard to one aspect of climate change.
It's really a minor sidelight, and the fact that it has come front and center shows the huge cap legislatively that's out there, that Mr. Murphy in particular has, and Mr. Costa have enunciated very, very clearly. We take care of all the tactics. Joe talked about nuclear energy. He talked about batteries. We've got a whole section in here on transportation, hybrid electric cars and we don't talk about it, we put down the nitty-gritty legislative requirements to see that it's going to happen.
Honestly, no offense to any other legislative activity that's out there, but it's all marginal and tactical and a sidelight. It has nothing to do with the center focus of this bill, which is energy independence and I guarantee you -- I guarantee you that we can go to any forum, whether it's on the business side, whether it's on the labor side, whether it's on the community side, and everybody in that audience instantaneously is not only going to know what we're talking about, but we can get their support. This is something that everybody can get behind.
Q Let me follow up on that. Just on the drilling part of this bill, I'm wondering if you can clarify why that's necessary since the moratorium is already lifted, so why do you -- (inaudible) --
REP. MURPHY: Well, the moratorium is lifted, but quite frankly companies are very reticent to begin any plans for drilling because they're not sure when the rug is going to be pulled out from under them, and if it goes, as other drilling actions will take place, money goes into the federal Treasury, and as you know Congress has a pretty good track record of spending that in lots of different directions.
What we want to do is focus that funding, and actually, by passing this law, the oil companies will understand that they have permission and they have the backing of the American people to know that that money is going to come back towards them.
Think of it this way, the oil and natural gas on the coasts, as Speaker Pelosi talked about that, really belongs, and all of us understand that belongs, those resources, to the American people.
This is the only bill that really returns that wholeheartedly to the American people in a widespread way that cleans up our environment, and so this is really the key that unlocks that and opens up that area in an unprecedented and positive way.
REP. COSTA: Let me just add to that. As the chairman of the Subcommittee on Energy and Minerals on Federal Lands, you probably know, but the return on royalties for oil and gas, this is the second- largest single return to the federal Treasury outside of American taxes, tax dollars going to the federal Treasury.
So last -- two years ago it was in excess of $13 billion. Last year, it was in excess of $18 billion. With the moratorium lifted, the $2.2 trillion over a period of 20 years really dedicates that money in a way that the existing royalty payment structure and the royalty in-kind program does not.
So that's why we say, one, it's PAYGO neutral. Number two, this provides the financing to deal with the transition and the -- what I refer to as the robust renewable portfolio energy program that everyone's talking about.
It's nice to talk about it, but I don't actually have the financing to pay for it. You can't get there from here. This, by dedicating the sources of revenue over a period of 20 years for oil and gas on federal lands, both onshore and offshore, as under the percentage structure that Congressman Murphy outlined in his opening statement, allows us to bridge and transition as I spoke of over the next ten years, the next 10 to 20 years and beyond and that's what's been lacking on the other legislation.
I got so frustrated last fall of both of our partisans saying -- the sloganeering, use it or lose it or drill, baby drill, right? Those sloganeering are both nonsensical in my view in trying to develop a comprehensive energy policy, I mean, they may be nice sound bites, but the fact is they don't get you from here. This package, this package truly is the most comprehensive, the most common sense and really, clearly, outlines how you get there from here and that is always, I think, has been what has been lacking in how we develop such a comprehensive energy policy in this country.
REP. CAPITO: I think, specially, and I might need my colleagues to help me out here that the ban that was lifted in September brought it down to three miles off the coast and I'm sure if you talk to South Carolina or Virginia or North Carolina, all those coasts, it would be most affected.
We recognize that that is a thorn in the side for development, so we moved it back to 20 miles from the coast, which was something we went back and forth on a couple of times before to try to find the right. So we made adjustments there to be realistic, I think, and to be considerate of the shorelines that are dependent on tourism and other things for their -- and it just makes good sense.
So we did make some adjustments there in reaction to the lifting of the ban in September.
REP. WILSON: And, specifically, where that's so important. If it can be three miles, that's within line of sight, but by curvature of the Earth, it's -- 12 to 14 miles would place the oil platforms beyond beach view. Twenty miles is clearly beyond beach view. So that's -- this is what I believe to be environmentally very hopeful.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: One other point to complement what Mr. Murphy said about the investment: This extends the alternative and renewable energy protection and investment tax credits and incentives out to 2019, and that's -- and it's all paid for. That's the beauty of this. When it goes to the Ways and Means Committee for consideration or -- and anybody else in the Congress, this lets companies, private investment, come in with the certainty that it's going to be long term for them.
And as a result, we think that it's going to have a very, very, very positive effect.
Q (Off mike.)
REP. ABERCROMBIE: The question is on there, how do we propose strategically? We're proposing a strategy. I think it will have a big appeal to people, saying why are we dealing with this piecemeal? Climate change is only one aspect of domestic energy independence and transferring to an alternative energy future. Why are we dealing with this just tactically, especially when it's so difficult to achieve?
The fact that they haven't been able to get to a markup yet should tell you what the situation is. We're hoping that people will say that -- not -- I say we're hoping, I'm confident, that what we're putting forward will appeal to everybody as a comprehensive strategy.
That's what appealed to all of us, the group that has come together. It's not just us folks. We deliberately try to not get into Republican and Democrat when we sign up, as we did last year. I think we had, what, 25 and 25, or something like that. We could have had 100 people sign on the bill. That's not the issue.
We think that -- that this is a strategy. Everything else is a tactic, and that the leadership very quickly is going to come -- leadership in both parties will very quickly come to the conclusion that anything that can bring progressives and Blue Dogs together in the Democratic Party, anything that -- anything that can bring a Republican Study Committee and everybody else in the Republican Party together is something that we should take a serious legislative look at.
Q (Off mike.)
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Oh, there's a much larger group.
Q How many people?
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Hundreds. (Laughter.)
REP. MURPHY: We have -- well, we had before -- the bill we had last summer had 100-plus --
REP. COSTA: One hundred, plus, yes.
REP. MURPHY: -- sign on to it. This, the difference is, this bill actually defines other areas the funding will go to, particularly some things like clean coal and other environmental restoration issues.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: So we're going to put -- everybody else is waiting for us to give them the bill. Joe Barton, Mike Pence, just to name a couple of people. Now, I'm not saying they're going to sign up, but they're saying, "As soon as you guys get finished, give us the bill so that we can take a look at it," which is -- it's really an interesting way of doing business, of just members getting together, and then the other members, yes, they trust us.
They know, first of all, we've been through this before. And so, everybody says, "We know you folks are not out there pushing some special deal for yourselves or anything like that. When you're -- when you're finished, send it out to us, and we're confident that because of the credibility that was gathered by the initial bill" -- that John Peterson helped to get under way. I think of him really as the father and mother of this -- of this -- of this whole operation -- all credit to him.
Then, everybody else, I think we'll get a lot of people signing on very, very quickly, as the -- as it sinks in that we're not going very far and that, particularly in the House of Representatives, we have to answer up to people in 2010: "What did you do in this crisis?"
Everybody knows that China is out there trying to grab up every mineral on the face of the Earth -- leasing it, buying it, cajoling for it, bargaining, whatever they can do. Everybody knows that they're trying to create their own internal markets so that they don't have to be dependent on exports to the United States.
Everybody knows that South Asia is in an explosive phase of economic expansion in relation to their population growth and development. Everybody knows that if we do not get to energy independence on a strategically broad foundation, the United States is not only going to be in decline, but the United States is going to face a fiscal crisis in transportation, energy and national security that it may not be able to survive.
This is a strategy to address those fundamental questions.
Q (Off mike.)
REP. MURPHY: Actually, it is.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Oh, no, no, no, no.
REP. MURPHY: Actually it is. The -- we have about 400 coal- fired power plants in America. Trouble is, about 40 percent-plus have no or inadequate scrubbers.
Now, this --
Q (Off mike.)
REP. MURPHY: Well, what happened before, when there's a cap, it says do this, but there's no mechanism to do this.
So what we do is we say, okay, we're going to work towards actually lowering those levels and we look at -- you lower levels a number of ways by making more efficient transportation, houses, factories, coal plants, nuclear plants, windmills, solar. You name it that is on the wish list of any of these other bills, we actually fund it.
So we get there. And this is where we think that any of the groups that have been supportive of the concept of setting caps before will look upon this as we actually get us there.
When you look at the difference between power plants that otherwise emit millions of tons of emissions every year, our goal is to get them down to near zero. That in itself -- that in itself is a huge change in what we're doing in this country, and so that's -- that's a dramatic difference.
Q So has there been an analysis then of in 2020 what, you know, X percentage of emissions are going to be reduced? I mean, is there -- has anybody run those numbers --
REP. MURPHY: You are the first group to hear about this. We are just out of the box with this. We just launched this bill. We'll be going through other analysis, but we certainly recognize with some people that we have floated some ideas by -- to recognize that to build a cleaner power plant can take several billions of dollars, and that's one of the reasons why people just aren't doing it.
We recognize that if the government and the people of this nation feel that's important, they feel that's a mandate, we ought to fund it and not simply put it on a wish list. And so that's -- that's the dramatic difference that takes place here. Anything else?
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Just we need to emphasize, you can require, you can mandate until you turn blue. If you don't finance it, if you don't actually invest in it, if you don't actually do it, you end up doing what -- what I just spoke about, trading pollution.
There's no incentive to anybody to reduce the carbon footprint, reduce the adverse effects of climate change at all if you can trade your problems away, if you can shuffle it off to somebody else.
What are you going to do if they don't clean up the coal plants, beat them with sticks, put them in the stocks?
We have outright fraud and theft going on right now, and they plea bargain their way into letting the consuming public, the taxpaying public pay their fines for them.
Fine them? Is that what we're going to do? That doesn't accomplish anything.
What this bill does is say, if you really want to reduce carbon footprints, if you really want to change the adverse effects of climate change, then you actually have to do something about it.
We have hundreds of years of coal in this country. We need to find a way to use it. There's always a footprint with everything. Nothing is, in terms of clean technology, no matter what it is -- solar, windmills, all the rest of it -- there is a great -- take this month's New Yorker, this latest New Yorker and look in the front of it. There's a guy -- a couple of guys standing on top of a giant windmill. They're not turning. The guy says, "Blow on it." You know, believe me, you have to put the reality behind it.
And I think that, again, that's what's going to be the appeal of this bill. We actually do what we say we're talking about and we pay for it.
Q So, I mean, I apologize for belaboring this.
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Your apology is accepted. Belabor away.
Q It appears that, you know, you say the Waxman bill has a mandate without the funding, but I mean, isn't this the funding without a mandate?
REP. ABERCROMBIE: No.
Q And is there room to combine the two?
REP. ABERCROMBIE: Oh, sure. Okay. I'll tell you what. Pass mandates. We've got mandates all over the place. How about No Child Left Behind? Let me draw you a parallel. Okay? How is that going? You have to put the money behind it. You have to finance it. You actually have to put the financial superstructure under it.
Q I mean, how do you -- how do you ensure that the goal is achieved with just the money, but without the, you know, without the mechanism to be sure that they take advantage of this money. I mean --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: It was environmental -- the laws that -- no, well, actually what exists right now, I can speak with some authority about this just from my length of service in the legislature, all the environmental laws right now, why are we not able to get new coal plants to utilize the energy resource that we have with coal? Because the environmental laws already in existence forbid it.
I mean, there's a reason why these haven't been able to be built over and above the finances is that you probably are not going to be able to withstand a legal challenge that you're not meeting the standards. We already have the standards. The standards already exist. We can't meet them because nobody can put the money together to make it happen.
Q Actually, that raises -- (inaudible) -- on greenhouse gases -- (inaudible) --
REP. ABERCROMBIE: They already do. I mean, that's one of the -- the fears, if you will, that's out there right now. My God, the EPA's going to come in and tell us how much -- that takes us to the water resources part that we have here. I can tell you right now, the EPA -- I'll give you an example from Hawaii, because I've dealt with it as a city council member, as a state legislator, and now as a member of Congress. The EPA comes out to Hawaii and tries to tell us that the Pacific Ocean is like somebody's stream or creek, so that we have to -- the city and county of Honolulu is now facing a multimillion- and perhaps billion-dollar requirement on wastewater treatment, the secondary to tertiary out in the Pacific Ocean.
Where are we supposed to get the money for that? How are we supposed to do that? We have less than a million people, taxpaying public. We've got a lot of kids that are not paying taxes. You know, we have a lot of other people that aren't paying taxes. Where are we supposed to get the money for that even if it was something we were supposed to do? So we have to go to court and try and fight that and say the science doesn't even support what you're saying.
So believe me, the environmental protections are out there, piled up and thick. The environmental protections in terms of their legal import, their legal weight is already on us. I don't know what you can do to the taxpayers out in Honolulu. Again, go and confiscate their children or something unless they -- they -- they obey the EPA for wastewater treatment out into the ocean?
So, to us, legislatively speaking, everything is already there to require and mandate and force us to do what this bill addresses.
REP. MURPHY: All right?
REP. COSTA: Thank you.
REP. MURPHY: Thank you.