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Walden Supports Key Renewable Power, Increased Efficiency Provisions in Energy Act

Location: Washington, DC

Walden Supports Key Renewable Power, Increased Efficiency Provisions in Energy Act
Saturday, April 9, 2005

Key provisions in and amendments to the Energy Policy Act currently under consideration in committee would reduce America's dependence on foreign oil, encourage cleaner forms of power

WASHINGTON, DC - U.S. Congressman Greg Walden (R-OR), vice-chairman of the House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus and co-chairman of the Northwest Energy Caucus, last week has expressed support for legislative action, outlined in the comprehensive Energy Policy Act of 2005, that would encourage the development and use of renewable forms of energy such as solar power, wind power, fuel cells and biomass.

Walden is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which began its deliberation of the Act last week and will continue its work when the Congress reconvenes on Tuesday, April 12. Certain components of the Act fall under the jurisdiction of the House Committee on Resources, of which Walden is also a member, and will be taken up by that committee beginning Wednesday, April 13.

"With the increasing demand for oil around the world and the rising costs in Oregon and throughout the nation, we must focus on the development of alternate energy sources, especially those that are clean, efficient and renewable," said Walden. "The Northwest for years has been reaping the benefits of low-cost, renewable hydropower and I have been a proud advocate for the preservation of these benefits while in the Congress."

Walden continued, "In addition to hydropower, Oregon and the Northwest have pioneering companies leading the way in environmentally friendly energy technology. Whether fuel cell system development in Central Oregon, wind power generation along the Columbia Gorge, or geothermal energy in Southern Oregon, investing in new energy sources makes America more energy independent while creating good paying, environmentally friendly jobs."

The Energy and Commerce Committee met multiple times this week to begin markup of the Energy Policy Act during which Walden supported key, bipartisan renewable energy provisions and amendments, including some that encourage the consumption of renewable energy and the procurement of energy efficient equipment within the Federal Government. Each of the amendments listed below were passed by the Committee.

"As federal lawmakers, we have a responsibility to set a precedent for energy efficient practices," said Walden. "We come to Washington and pass laws encouraging, sometimes requiring, businesses and other government agencies to reduce energy costs and increase energy efficiency. These amendments bring the federal Government and the Congress closer to the goals we set for others. We must lead by example."

Walden voted in favor of an amendment offered by Representative Jay Inslee (D-WA) that calls on the Secretary of Energy to establish a program for the procurement and installation of solar electric systems for electricity production in new and existing public buildings. The production of solar power in federal buildings will help reduce the overall national consumption of fossil fuels while reducing associated costs paid by the federal government. The amendment stipulates a goal of solar energy systems in 20,000 Federal buildings by 2010.

In the past, Congress has required that executive agencies in the government procure Energy Star certified equipment when possible. Such equipment may include computer components, televisions and appliances. Representative Diana DeGette (D-CO) introduced an amendment supported by Walden stipulating compliance by the U.S. Congress with these same requirements.

The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) was established by Congress in 1981 and provides assistance to low-income households to help cover energy costs. This assistance is especially critical in areas with extremely cold and/or extremely hot temperatures where the energy costs necessary to avoid conditions such as heatstroke or hypothermia can be burdensome to families and senior citizens. Walden joined with colleagues from both sides of the aisle to support two amendments strengthening LIHEAP during this week's markup.

The first of these amendments was offered by Representative Bobby Rush (D-IL) to increase funding for the program through fiscal year 2008 given the rising costs of energy throughout the nation. The Second amendment was offered by Representative Charles Bass (R-NH) to allow those receiving federal assistance through LIHEAP to purchase renewable fuels, including biomass, for their energy needs. Allowing LIHEAP participants to purchase renewable fuels would help reduce the nation's oil dependency while encouraging the consumption of cleaner, less-expensive forms of energy.

An additional amendment supported by Walden was offered by Representative Fred Upton (R-MI) and would alter the current dates of Daylight Savings Time by changing the start date from April to March and the end date from October to November. The United States would save an estimated 10 thousand barrels of oil a day during the two additional months, conserving resources and taking a step toward reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

Additionally, Walden and other leaders of the bipartisan Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus submitted a letter to House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Bill Thomas (R-CA) and Ranking Member Charles Rangel (D-NY) expressing the caucus' support for the extension of current renewable energy production tax credits (PTC). Current PTCs, incentives for businesses to develop alternative forms of energy, are set to expire at the end of this calendar year. The Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus believes that these credits should be extended for at least three years, giving companies an opportunity to develop comprehensive plans.

The letter states, "Clean power production provides greater reliability for our electricity system, promotes cleaner air and water, benefits our land and economy, and helps ensure our national security."

As chairman of the House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health, Walden also submitted a letter to Chairman Thomas individually, reiterating his support for renewable development tax credits focusing especially on biomass. Biomass used to create renewable energy has a distinct relationship to work being conducted under the authority of the Healthy Forests Restoration Act (HFRA), which Walden coauthored and was signed into law in 2003. The Act provides for, among other things, the expedited removal of hazardous fuels on federal lands to prevent catastrophic wildfires and protect communities, watersheds, and wildlife.

Walden wrote, "The removal of these fuels, small diameter trees and woody debris, is expensive. Fortunately, this woody biomass has many possible uses, including energy production, which have the potential to offset the cost of removal." The letter goes on to request that tax credits for biomass energy facilities be included in this year's energy bill, encouraging businesses to continue the development of biomass energy production that will ultimately help reduce our consumption of non-renewable forms of energy while also reducing the cost of hazardous fuels reduction and the burden on U.S. taxpayers.

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