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Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. DICKS. Mr. Chairman, first of all I would like to commend Chairman Frelinghuysen, whom I've enjoyed working with both here and on the Defense Subcommittee, and Ranking Member Visclosky on their efforts to continue in the tradition of bipartisanship and cooperation. I know that all members of the Energy and Water Subcommittee, in addition to the staff, have worked hard to bring this bill forward and get us where we are today. And I want to commend our chairman, Mr. Rogers, for again presenting us with an open rule which allows the Members to have a chance to offer amendments. In an era when we don't have earmarks, it is very important that Members have an opportunity to come here to the floor and offer an amendment. I'm not trying to encourage anybody, but it is a reality.

Now, despite the decision made by the Republican leadership, unfortunately, to abandon the overall spending level contained in the Budget Control Act agreement reached last year, I'm encouraged that this bill provides funding above last year's level.

The reality, however, is that if we do not return to the overall levels we agreed to in August, proceeding with additional appropriations bills here in the House will be exceedingly difficult.

Many programs in the Energy and Water bill are sufficiently funded; however, I do have concerns about the funding levels provided to certain accounts. Of particular concern to me are deep cuts in the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy program, as well as steep reductions in the ARPA-E program. These programs are vital to continue our Nation's innovation in the energy sector.

I would also like to reiterate Mr. Visclosky's concern over the funding levels of the Army Corps of Engineers relative to FY12, particularly as the Corps struggles with its aging structure. The bill provides the Corps with $188 million less than 2012. We must invest in our infrastructure by making preventative and proactive investments.

Although this subcommittee mark does not fully fund the budget request for the clean-up at the Hanford nuclear site in Washington State, I understand that the funding level is sufficient for continued progress and a realistic work schedule for FY13.

I want to applaud the chairman and ranking member for continuing the funding for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage facility. During the amendment process of this bill, I expect to join an effort led by Chairman Shimkus to increase funding in this account in order to underscore the strong bipartisan support in the House for moving ahead with the plan to open the Nation's high-level waste storage facility. I believe, as many do in the House, that the administration's position to close the Yucca Mountain site runs counter to the letter and spirit of the Nuclear Waste Policy Act passed by the Congress.


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