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Hearing of the Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee of the House Energy and Commerce Committee - DeGette Questions Legitimacy Of GOP "Federal Green Jobs Agenda" Hearing


Location: Washington, DC

U.S. Rep. Diana DeGette (CO-1) today issued the following opening statement at the so-called "Federal Green Jobs Agenda" hearing of the House Energy and Commerce's Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations. As Ranking Member of the Subcommittee, Rep. DeGette questioned the Republican leadership's premise of the hearing as yet another attempt to play partisan, political games, while failing to ever introduce their own jobs programs or use their oversight abilities to improve existing programs.

Last week, Rep. DeGette conducted a tour of some Denver-area small clean energy businesses, and saw first-hand how critical the cleantech industry is to the U.S. -- to create jobs in the short-term and secure our nation's economic future.

Rep. DeGette's statement as delivered is as follows:

From your opening statement, I'm assuming, Mr. Chairman, that you are holding this hearing today because of your concern that we are not creating enough green jobs and that the Republican majority wants to figure out how to make the Obama green jobs programs better. In fact, if this hearing represented a fair assessment of the Obama Administration's greens jobs agenda and an honest discussion of how to improve these programs, I would be in full support. However, I'm sorry to say, instead of that we will only hear complaints and opposition to President Obama's programs.

You would never know that many of these programs were passed with bipartisan support, or that they began under President Bush or earlier Administrations -- again with bipartisan support. Somehow it seems to me, having sat on this Committee for a number of years, that Republicans only woke up to their vehement opposition to a government role in green energy when President Obama was elected.

My colleagues on the other side of the aisle attack and besmirch every Administration program and decision. At the same time, they have not passed bipartisan legislation to create their own jobs programs or used their oversight abilities build better programs. This partisanship above policy attitude is a detriment to our nation.

Mr. Chairman, the witness list for this hearing provides all the evidence we need to determine whether it is truly designed as an impartial, fact-finding exercise. You've invited four different witnesses to describe how the government's estimates of green jobs and green job creation are wrong, useless, or inaccurate…. But we don't have a single government witness to respond to these criticisms. Nobody from DOE, nobody from Treasury, nobody from EPA, and nobody from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. This does not seem to me -- as someone who's been on this Committee for 16 years -- like an appropriate way to conduct oversight of important government programs.

The programs we are here to talk about today -- like the Section 1603 tax grant, the Department of Energy weatherization program and the DOE loan programs --have improved the lives of citizens all over this country, creating jobs, heating homes and providing resources to this nation's energy innovators. The district or state of every member of this Committee has benefitted from the federal government's investment in clean energy. Republican and Democratic Members, including Chairman Upton, have written to DOE in support of companies seeking funds for renewable energy projects.

Because I'm concerned about clean energy jobs creation, last week, I toured clean tech companies in Denver. One stop was at Coolerado, a manufacturer of efficient and quiet air conditioners using indirect evaporative cooling technology. Coolerado's units use up to 90% less energy than conventional AC units, and their technology won the R&D 100 awards for the successful operation of its first units. They have 40 employees today, up from 11 employees five years ago, and revenue has grown over 500% in that time. Coolerado has been steadily growing and attracting investors since their founding in 2004, but it is precisely this type of hearing that delegitimizes their genuine success story.

I also visited Raven Brick on my clean tech tour. RavenBrick produces a "smart-window" technology -- sort of like Polaroid glasses for windows -- for residential, commercial and industrial applications. The company has begun construction of an automated plant in Denver, due for completion mid-2012, and intends to increase employment to 200 by 2015. This committee attacks on clean energy and clean tech threaten the livelihoods of my consitutents.

Mr. Chairman, if looking in our districts doesn't prove the case, then perhaps we should look abroad at our competitors. The Chinese government is making major strategic investments in renewable energy. And because of these investments, China's market share has grown dramatically: from 6% of the solar market in 1995 to 54% in 2010. This Congress should not be complicit in ceding the future green energy market to our foreign competitors.

If we intend to be long-term competitors on the global energy market, we need well-trained workers, we need funding for energy innovators, and we need programs to promote energy efficiency.

And, we need to be less dependent on oil in the years that come. There are real world implications to this continued dependence on oil. Not only does it put us at an economic disadvantage and harm our environment, it also provides strategic advantages to unfriendly nations -- which can create significant national security concerns.

That is why I am pleased to have Mike Breen of the Truman National Security Project here today. Mr. Breen has testified before this Committee before, and has provided important context on the national security implications of our nation's oil dependence. Put simply: when we lack alternatives to oil, it enriches our enemies, endangers our troops, and costs taxpayers billions of dollars annually. This is a recipe that must change.

I look forward to hearing from Mr. Breen, and I appreciate him testifying today.

There are clear environmental, economic, public health and national security reasons to invest in a clean energy economy. The federal government should be doing all it can to make sure the clean energy economy is viable so this nation can compete in a global energy market.

Mr. Chairman, the economy is still struggling, and we should be supporting government efforts to create new economic development opportunities for businesses and individuals. We should support more programs that inspire inventors and businesses to invest in new, modern technologies.

Renewable energy is this world's future. We can't be left behind. We must invest in clean energy for the good of this nation and its citizens.

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