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Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriation Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. The Obama administration has not been shy about its desire to wipe out our Nation's use of fossil energy resources. Mining permits in Kentucky and eastern America have ground to a halt. Oil and gas leasing on Federal lands and our Outer Continental Shelf are stagnant, onerous regulations are shuttering power plants, and EPA officials have gone on the record expressing a desire to crucify the fossil industries, which have been the backbone of our energy security for decades and continue to today.

And how does this administration propose to fill the gaping hole they've left in our energy security? By throwing billions of taxpayer dollars down a black hole at pie-in-the-sky renewable pet projects like Solyndra.

I agree with my colleagues that we must balance the expansion of conventional fuels--coal, natural gas, oil, and nuclear--to provide energy today with investment into renewable energies to power our future. And that's exactly what the underlying bill seeks to do, Mr. Chairman.

The funding provided for fossil energy research and development will support investments in carbon capture, carbon storage, and other advanced energy systems so our country can more efficiently use centuries worth of coal and natural gas already at our disposal. Meanwhile, we continue to support reasonable levels in the EERE account that have seen exponential increases in recent years.

The President's energy strategy yields neither savvy investments for the taxpayer nor does it strengthen our energy security or our economy. Seen in tandem with the EPA's onerous utility regulations and deliberate delays to energy production permits, any cuts to fossil energy research are a part of a pincer movement designed to drive fossil energy from the marketplace. The results will be spiking energy costs, greater reliance on foreign sources of energy, and lost jobs.

As a result, Mr. Chairman, I urge a ``no'' vote on this amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.


Mr. ROGERS of Kentucky. Appalachia confronts a combination of challenges that few other parts of the country face: mountainous terrain and isolation, a dispersed population, inadequate infrastructure, a lack of financial and human resources, and a weak track record in applying for and receiving assistance from other Federal programs.

For decades, Appalachia has experienced an economic lag. Even during years of economic expansion, employment growth in this 13 State region was significantly lower than the Nation's as a whole. Even with ARC's funding, in fiscal '09, Appalachia received 33 percent fewer Federal expenditures per capita than the Nation. It's clear ARC programs do not duplicate other Federal programs. Instead, they extend the reach of those programs. In the last 5 years, every dollar of ARC investment yielded $10 of private sector investment. Clearly, ARC is an effective and efficient steward of the taxpayer dollar, targeting these funds where they are needed the most.

As a result, 125,000 households were served by infrastructure. Nearly 140,000 jobs were created or retained. And 100,000 students received vital job training skills. In addition, completing the Appalachian Development Highway System is expected to generate some $5 billion in annual economic benefit for the entire country by 2035.

But perhaps just as important as ARC's winning investment strategies is its working knowledge of the communities served. When storms ripped through rural Kentucky last March, leveling entire towns and particularly devastating the community of West Liberty, ARC was one of the first agencies on the ground to support and coordinate the State, local, and Federal response.

Largely because of ARC, these communities have a sense of hope for a successful rebuild and restoration. The Appalachian Regional Commission is uniquely qualified to administer these much-needed and targeted Federal investments to close the economic gap between Appalachia and the rest of the Nation and bring the region's 420 counties and 25 million people into the Nation's economic mainstream.

We must uphold our commitment to the American people to reduce the size and scope of government while maintaining the funding for proven effective programs like ARC that create jobs and keep the economy moving. I am confident ARC will continue its strong legacy of creating jobs and positive change in areas of the country which have been bypassed by opportunity. I urge a ``no'' vote.

I yield back the balance of my time.


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