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Public Statements

Domestic Energy and Jobs Act

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. TONKO. Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to H.R. 4480, which I heard my good friend and colleague from Massachusetts, Representative Markey, refer to as the ``Déja 2 Preview Act'' or the ``Big Oil Drain Act.''

Any student of history will tell you that the Congress was not designed to be efficient--while there were some good reasons for that--but deliberately celebrating that particular design of Congress with yet another partisan, short-sighted piece of legislation that moves United States energy policy backward is truly disappointing.

H.R. 4480 leaves our energy policy stuck somewhere in the 1950s. While other nations are making serious investments to diversify their energy supplies, support new clean energy businesses, and become less dependent on traditional fossil fuels, we are marching in place.

H.R. 4480, with its gag order on renewables and energy efficiency, is another missed opportunity and a waste of time. H.R. 4480 is nothing more than a wish list for Big Oil companies at a time when these companies are making record profits on the backs of America's taxpayers and her middle class.

Our energy crisis isn't that we need to drill for more oil. In fact, we're actually quite good at it as we saw in Representative Markey's presentation. This bill will only make us more dependent on a limited resource that is priced on the global market and enjoys a century-old taxpayer giveaway while making record profits on the backs of our middle class.

The answer to our energy crisis is to diversify our supply, support new clean energy businesses, become less dependent on fossil fuels--to focus on the demand side of the energy equation as much as we do our supply side.

While we consider this bill, policies that would provide modest assistance to companies that are working on solar, wind, fuel cells, combined heat and power, geothermal and energy efficiency, to name a few, are languishing in committee.

These are the technologies that will take us into the future, a bold future. True, they are not yet ready to provide all the energy we need, but that is all the more reason for us to help them move forward aggressively.

Jobs in the industries I've mentioned, good-paying jobs, are at risk due to our failure to renew the production tax credit, the 1603 program, and the research and development tax credit. We are stifling job growth and innovation with this act.

Eventually, traditional fossil fuels will run out. Already, the human health and environmental costs of extracting and using these fuels have risen tremendously. We choose to ignore this at our peril, or at least at the peril of the next generation and generations to come.

Over the past 40 years, the Clean Air Act has shown we can have both clean air and a vibrant economy. Since 1960, air pollution has decreased by more than 70 percent, while the economy has grown by more than 200 percent.

But this bill is likely to eliminate jobs, while making the air we breathe more toxic. But that doesn't seem to matter to the majority in the House. It does so by eliminating standards for cleaner vehicles and cleaner fuels, likely costing nearly 25,000 jobs a year for 3 years. Yet more backward motion.

The public lands policy put forward today and in yesterday's legislation is an insult to the previous generations whose foresight and concern for future generations granted us a rich inheritance of natural resources in our wildlife refuges, wilderness areas, and national parks.


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