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Public Statements

Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2014

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, I rise to support the amendment of the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. Foster), and I rise belatedly to support the amendment of the gentleman from Florida (Mr. Hastings) as well.

Let me speak from the layman's perspective, although I served for a number of years on the Science Committee and presently serve on Homeland Security, which many of us know that when we deal with the issues of national security, we're dealing with technology, we're dealing with science. In essence, we secure this Nation by being victors of science.

Let me use layman's terms. Let me use what children are studying in their classrooms, maybe Alexander Bell, maybe they're studying Albert Einstein, but maybe they are studying and admire the Nation's astronauts.

For a number of years, I served, as I said, on the Science Committee and the Subcommittee on Space and Aeronautics, and I could see how science permeated not only what we do here on Earth, but obviously space science. It seems to me, although I appreciate the heavy lifting of the chairman and the ranking member of this subcommittee on making determinations and going forward, what is America if we cannot invest in science?

Science is the job creator of the 21st century and the centuries beyond. Science provides jobs by creating new technology, new discoveries, and I, frankly, believe that it is suffering--that we have to subject America to the drastic cuts in science, the drastic cuts that will result in less research in labs, less private research, less teaching on science, and less growth and expansion on scientific inventions and obviously productivity.

So I would hope that, as the gentleman from Illinois has explained, it is a minute aspect of the funding source, and that we could balance our weaponry needs with the idea of advancing science. That's what I see these amendments as doing, both Mr. Hastings' and Mr. Foster's, attempting to not allow America to take a back seat or a second-class position on research and science.

It is clear that our best days are in front of us, and that America has grown and advanced because we have allowed the genius of science to be able to promote, not only our democracy, but our creativity and the curers of diseases, and also the finding of technology and the creation of invention that have made the quality of life better. That's what science is; it is human, it is humanity.

And so I would ask my colleagues to consider the amendment.

I rise to support science. I think it is valuable, I think it is important. And I think this is a difficult challenge for our committee, for this committee, but I do think that, as we proceed, we need to find a way to increase the funding for science, for us to be able to go forward in the greatness of this Nation in many, many ways.

But science has been a way that America has proven her greatness because we've allowed those with talent and opportunity to be able to share that talent in advancing the quality of life, not only for Americans, but humankind.

I'd ask my colleagues to support the amendment, and I yield back the balance of my time.


Ms. JACKSON LEE. Mr. Chairman, I, too, want to add my appreciation to the committee's work. It's tough work. It's important work because this is how we serve the American people.

I ask my colleagues to discuss with me--or follow my discussion on the importance of the amendment that I offer because it is an amendment that takes its funding from a source of funding that has been discussed previously, and that is the Atomic Energy Defense Activities, National Nuclear Security Administration. But it does take these moneys and it uses them in a very constructive manner. It is moneys to maintain for environmental justice that go to Historically Black Colleges and Universities, minority-serving institutions, tribal colleges, and other organizations. This is imperative in preserving sustainability and growth of a community and environment.

Mr. Chairman, that is the intent, the simple intent, that alongside of the important work of this appropriation of the Energy and Water there is a constant need to be assured that our communities are protected. Let me cite just a few examples as we proceed.

Many of us understand the recent tragedy that occurred--not in this country, but recently occurred in Canada where areas were wiped out. This is an important highlight for what environmental justice is all about.

Many of us have heard in the years past of the Buffalo Creek disaster. This is what environmental justice does; it is to fund programs that are vital to ensuring that minority groups are not placed at a disadvantage when it comes to the environment and the continued preservation of their homes.

But it goes further. It is underserved areas. It is as much important to preserve areas in Appalachia, in the Delta, in places where poor communities cannot, if you will, represent themselves. Through education about the importance of environmental sustainability, we can promote a broader understanding of science and our citizens can improve their surroundings.

What better group than Historically Black Colleges, minority-serving institutions that include Hispanic-serving institutions and tribal colleges; why are they the best to move in that direction? Primarily because they communicate with those underserved communities.

Funds that would be awarded to this important cause would increase youth involvement in STEM fields and also promote clean energy, weatherization cleanup, and asset revitalization. These improvements will provide protection to our most vulnerable groups.

Many people believe environmental justice has to do with lawsuits. It has to do with outreach and information. This is simply a small program that allows the Department of Energy to focus on this constituency and ensure the coverage and the protection.

This program provides better access to technology for underserved communities. Together, the Department of Energy and Department of Agriculture distributed access to information which generates a recognition of protecting the environment. Community leaders are able as well to participate in environmental justice.

In our communities, in urban areas, there's a need for environmental justice. Again, what better institutions than those institutions that draw their population from the communities, that draw their population from the reservations or from the communities that our Native Americans are engaged in?

So I ask my colleagues to look at this program, look at the, if you will, fiscal responsibility that I've utilized in drawing from the program to invest in environmental justice. It's a fair way to give resources to these vital institutions that, to be frank with you, Mr. Chairman, they don't have the resources, but they do good work.

Texas Southern University had an environmental justice clinic located in Houston in the 18th Congressional District. But let me be very clear, this is not an earmark. These are resources that can be used by the Department of Energy that will respond to this broad depth of universities, Historically Black Colleges, tribal institutions, minority-serving--which include, of course, the Hispanic-serving institutions.

Let me quickly say that since 2002, the Tribal Energy Program has also funded 175 energy projects. But again, this is limited to environmental justice. I believe this is an effective utilization of these funds and would ask my colleagues to ensure that we have the funds to ensure the good work of these particular entities.

Let me conclude by asking my colleagues to support the education of our young people in the environmental protection area that enhances the communities from which they have come, making America better. I ask my colleagues to support the Jackson Lee amendment.

I yield back the balance of my time.


Ms. JACKSON LEE. I thank the gentlelady, and I thank my good friend from New Jersey. But I do want to cite that nearly 10 years ago, President Clinton produced Executive Order 12898, thereby highlighting the importance of not only giving greater attention to our underserved communities, but also how we can help our citizens by educating them on the areas in which they live. That falls under the particular account that I'm utilizing, and I would therefore like to go forward in this instance.

Let me just be very appreciative of my good friend, the chairman of this subcommittee, and the ranking member. I am very appreciative of how difficult it is under sequester. But what I would say is that these entities--Historically Black Colleges, minority-serving and tribal colleges--in the course of what we're trying to do, these resources, added to what the gentleman has already indicated, the $3.2 million, $3.4 million is meager in what they could do with protecting communities, educating communities about their environmental needs.

So that's environmental justice. It is expanding the reach so that communities are far more protected than those that we've seen.

I thank the gentlelady for yielding.


Ms. JACKSON LEE. Let me sort of clarify, because the chairman has made a point about a certain area where it is referencing Historically Black Colleges. They are referencing several areas. I am speaking specifically to environmental justice, which is represented in the Departmental Administration account. So I'm focusing on the important work that these colleges can do as it relates to educating our poor, impoverished communities and communities of which they have a direct ability to communicate with.

I will tell you, bringing forth environmental experts out of these jurisdictions--tribal colleges, minority-serving, and Historically Black--is a great asset to improving the quality of life of all Americans. So I would ask my colleagues to support the amendment.

So mine is one of the references. There are many references where Historically Black Colleges are, but this is specifically dealing with environmental justice.


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