WASHINGTON – April 23, 2015 – (RealEstateRama) — Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH) delivered opening remarks for the House Appropriations Committee this morning as the committee begins markup of language from the Energy and Water Subcommittee where Kaptur serves as Ranking Member. Rep. Kaptur is also offering an amendment to remove controversial policy riders, most notably a provision that would roll back efforts to protect certain bodies of water, including ponds and marshes, under the Clean Water Act. Her opening statement in full:
“Mr. Chairman, please let me recognize you for the hard effort and collegiality required to prepare this Fiscal Year 2016 Energy and Water bill. Special gratitude is extended as well to Chairman Rogers, Ranking Member Lowey, and the dedicated members of our Subcommittee for their diligence and good attendance. Finally, to our exceptional subcommittee professional staff—Donna Shahbaz on the Republican side and Taunja Berquam on the Democratic side—all of us appreciate your indefatigable work ethic and very long hours devoted to this bill.
I think both the Chairman and I are very pleased to see our bill move first through this appropriations cycle. It is a fitting bill to be considered on Earth Day. Surely, the twelve bills that come through our Full Committee offer the Legislative Branch a precious Constitutional responsibility to meet our nation’s obligations to future generations through our combined efforts. From America’s nuclear security to the educational opportunity for millions of youngsters across our nation, our bills touch every aspect of American life.
Unfortunately, the allocations the Committee is working with are based on the House Majority’s Budget Resolution. The budget conference is ongoing. Members on both sides of the aisle have publically acknowledged that the allocation is inadequate. We need a sensible overall budget number along with firm Subcommittee allocations. Without these, our Subcommittee is placed in a most difficult position. While our Committee will address the broader 302(b) allocations in a short while, moving this bill absent a sensible overall budget number is truly putting the cart before the horse. Further, the Energy and Water bill does have a reasonable 302(b) under this scenario—a $1.2 billion increase, compared to the $1.8 billion increase in the budget request—however it comes at the expense of other Subcommittees whose worthy work hangs in suspended animation.
We meet at a time when the Western part of our nation is becoming more desert like. We witness a world where the politics of energy is compromising liberty and where our nation is still not energy independent. We feel the weight of nuclear proliferation in a world where irresponsible states and transnational actors seek to harm. With global population expected to nearly double over the course of this century, we know water and seaborne commerce—still the most cost effective transportation mode—will require modern ports and infrastructure. The energy and water jurisdiction is home to these objectives and many more.
With this very serious procedural impediment, let us turn to the underlying tenets of the Energy and Water bill.
When the Department of Energy was created in 1977, America was in the midst of a national energy crisis that morphed into an economic crisis. President Jimmy Carter set a goal for America to be energy independent by 1985.
Biofuels had not come on stream. Today, this carbohydrate-based industry has literally turned the hydrocarbon molecule inside out, and now constitutes nearly 10% of the liquid fuel our nation consumes. Byproducts of farming and manufacturing are being scaled up to be transformed to natural gas.
Photovoltaic energy was a distant dream in 1980. Today, First Solar, an Ohio launched company, is our nation’s leading solar firm. It is locked in fierce competition, hot on the heels of two Chinese firms that rank one and two globally. Solar power, a technology that has become cost competitive over 40 years through progressive research and development funding by the Department of Energy, will grow in the marketplace as converter and storage technology and integrated delivery systems are perfected. I can’t say enough about how exciting it is to see a new energy industry being born. Last year, solar represented 20 percent of new generation capacity—an astounding figure and a testament to how far the industry has progressed.
Geothermal, wind, and other renewable technologies, paired with an effective smart grid modernization plan, will take their place along with conservation as part of our all-of-the-above energy strategy.
For fossil fuels and coal in particular, our nation has more BTU’s underground in coal than the Middle East’s oil. The scientific challenge is to push research to unlock the power of hydrocarbons in a manner that doesn’t harm the atmosphere.
Natural gas, thanks to advanced technology supported by the Department of Energy, is coming on more robustly than anyone could have predicted four decades ago. The U.S. is projected to become a net exporter by 2020.
We are reminded of the power of energy to transform economies and entire political relationships, by looking no further than Europe’s unwise dependency on Russia for its natural gas; or the Middle East’s politics that ebb and flow with oil wars again unfolding before our eyes in real time.
40 years ago, containing our ballooning energy consumption topped the agenda—reducing our annual demand growth to less than 2 percent and reducing gasoline consumption by 10 percent. President Carter achieved both goals during his presidency. But while total energy consumption has grown only modestly since then, gasoline consumption increased by 40 percent in the 25 years after he left office. Under the current Administration, partnerships between the Energy Labs and automotive companies have finally helped us level out our demand for gasoline. American will become even more efficient.
President Carter also laid out goals for energy efficiency and renewable energy—using solar in more than two and a half million homes and insulating 90 percent of all buildings. The 17.5 Gigawatts of solar electric capacity currently operating in the U.S. is enough to power more than 3.5 million average American homes and 90 percent of homes in the U.S. are now insulated. These are important milestones for our country. We must continue to push onward.
Finally, on the critical issue of reducing foreign oil imports, President Carter’s initiative reduced imports below the target of 6 million barrels a day—a cut of nearly 1/3—but imports again went on the rise in subsequent decades. Today, we are still above 6 million barrels, but with President Obama’s rigorous leadership in promoting more domestic drilling, oil imports continue to decline and America is once again producing overall more energy here at home than we import from abroad.
The measure before us continues to advance energy innovation through the Science and ARPA-E accounts—respectively, slightly above and equal to 2015 funding. It is critical for the U.S. to surpass aggressive foreign competition on the energy frontier.
However, the $266 million decrease in funding for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency is concerning and threatens to undercut the extraordinary strides our nation has made in recent years.
After accounting for programmatic shifts, the Weapons programs are funded $750 million above the comparative level last year. The bill fully funds the life extension programs, but ensures that funding is contingent on the ability of the NNSA to meet Committee-directed reporting requirements in a timely manner.
The equally important nonproliferation and cleanup portions of our nuclear program also receive increased funding. We must meet our responsibility to deter the threats of nuclear proliferation and clean up our nuclear legacy to minimize the burden passed on to future generations.
The bill provides robust funding for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Investments in water infrastructure keep our ports open for global business and mitigate floods. The Corps is essential in helping our country adapt to the challenges of both water scarcity in our drought-stricken West and water insecurity due to toxic runoff in freshwater-rich regions like the Great Lakes.
Specifically, Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund dredging projects receive a much-needed increase as directed by WRDA—$73 million more than in 2015 and $263 million above the budget request. The bill also continues the prohibition of new starts. However, the Corps of Engineers’ $60 billion backlog and lack of responsiveness to Member requests to complete work remain concerning.
Finally, it should be noted that several controversial and unnecessary riders threaten not only the ultimate enactment of this bill, but also our most precious resource: fresh water. Including these provisions is a disappointment and does a disservice in our work, particularly given the water challenges facing many parts of our country.
While I have concerns with the measure before us, Mr. Chairman, I would like to reiterate my appreciation for your work with us on vast issues. You have ensured that the Energy and Water Subcommittee continues its tradition of bipartisanship. Our Members look forward to working with you and the members on both sides of the aisle to advance the process and complete the task before us.
Thank you Mr. Chairman for the time.”