8:00 PM EDT

Mark Foley, R-FL 16th

Mr. FOLEY. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

Mr. Chairman, let me take this opportunity to thank the gentleman from California (Chairman PACKARD) for his hard work on this legislation before us today. I am proud of the work he has done to help preserve our water resources, particularly in the Everglades in Florida.

This is probably one the most important bills Members deal with relative to their legislative responsibilities because it clearly works within the districts and the multitude of projects that make America the great Nation it is.

I join my colleague today the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. MARKEY). He is unavoidably detained or he would be here today at this moment to argue with us the importance of this amendment.

But I think we can do more to preserve those truly important resources while ending some of the wasteful spending and corporate welfare in so many of the programs brought before this Congress.

The amendment I am offering today would shift funding from the Nuclear Energy Research Initiative, or NERI, to renewable energy research, which is truly a clean renewable source of energy.

After pouring more than $47 billion into the nuclear power industry over the last 50 years, this industry is still attempting to have the taxpayers fund its research and industry improvement efforts. Included in the fiscal year 2001 funding for the Department of Energy, the nuclear power industry will still get another $22.5 million in Nuclear Energy Research Initiative subsidies.

I think this is wrong, Mr. Chairman. The money goes to such corporate giants as Westinghouse and General Electric. Why does this mature industry need the help of the American taxpayers to develop and design the next generation nuclear reactors?

I would ask my colleagues, are any planned in their hometown or community? Probably not. But we are still spending money on research. Six of the nine largest investor-owned utilities by revenue were nuclear energy in 1998. They made profits of nearly $200 billion last year. Yet, the American people must continue to fund them.

Westinghouse and General Electric have been in the business for more than 40 years, and it is their turn to lead and to use their huge profits to advance their own industry.

The American taxpayers have over the last 50 years put $47 billion, again, $47 billion into nuclear subsidies. They should not have to subsidize this giant of an industry any longer.

Again, the amendment I am offering today with my colleague, the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. MARKEY), would ensure this money is used to support clean renewable energy. We would further help this emerging industry reinforce their infrastructure and keep it a reliable source for the future.

It is projected that voting for this amendment could save the American people at least $95 million over the next 5 years.

I urge my colleagues to adopt this common sense initiative. We would move out of the $22.5 requested in the cut, $13 million to wind energy and $6 million to Electric Energy Systems account, with the remaining $3.5 million to be returned to the Treasury for debt reduction.

I believe this is a good amendment, and I urge my colleagues to support it.

Mr. Chairman, I yield back the balance of my time.

8:03 PM EDT

Joe Knollenberg, R-MI 11th

Mr. KNOLLENBERG. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman for yielding me the time.

Mr. Chairman, I rise in strong opposition to this amendment. The gentleman from Florida (Mr. FOLEY) and the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. MARKEY) would pull the rug out from under the Department of Energy's important Nuclear Research Initiative, NERI, as it is called.

This chart behind me represents the latest data from the Energy Information Agency. There are 103 operating nuclear power plants in this country. They provide 23 percent of the Nation's electricity, more than ever before in our history. Think about it, almost one quarter comes from nuclear. Nuclear is clean and it is green and it is emissions free.

I implore every Member with a nuclear-related university or industry in their district to think about this. Regardless of whether it is a university program or nuclear engineering, a national laboratory or one of those 103 power plants, the NERI program provides vital information to support innovative research in nuclear technology.

This program is reinvigorating the Department of Energy's nuclear energy R&D based upon competitive and, more importantly, peer-reviewed projects. Even the President's very own committee of advisors says that PCAST as it is called, recommended in 1997 that further nuclear energy research and development is absolutely necessary to maintain the Nation's energy mix.

So it is absolutely amazing to me that someone would want to cut the modest amount of funding for the NERI program and instead send it to fund solar and renewables.

Let us take a look at this chart for a little bit. This is 1999. In 1999, 22.78, almost 23 percent, more than it was 10 years ago, more than it was 20 years ago. And guess what? The very things that my colleagues are talking about, such as the renewables, we can hardly find them on here.

When my colleagues turn the switch on in their house, where do they think the power comes from? It does not come from solar. It does not come from biomass or wind. In fact, the gentleman over here said 13 percent of it was all wrapped up in renewables. He is counting hydro. Hydro is a part of this. Hydro is clean.

But look at this. This is 1999. In 1990, it was the same thing, with nuclear down about 2 percent. In 1980, about the same thing. In the 30 years we have been funding this renewable program, we have seen very little gain.

I am not suggesting we drop it. I am suggesting we balance it. Do not take away funding that is needed. There are kids that want to go to school to learn how to keep these things going in the new generation of these nuclear plants that is coming on line. [Page: H5255]

Would my colleagues believe that nuclear plants can operate at a 100 percent capacity. Do they know that wind cannot get above 28? They talk about 100 percent capacity. Look, the wind does not blow all the time. Do not let that word fool us. Solar. The sun does not shine all the time.

So they said 100 percent capacity. No such thing, my colleagues. It is way below 28 percent, down around 20 percent. So keep that in mind when we are talking about dropping this program.

I admit I, too, like the solar. But let us not kill what works. We have got to prove this thing works. And it does not yet, the way nuclear does--reject the Markey-Foley amendment.

8:07 PM EDT

Pete Visclosky, D-IN 1st

Mr. VISCLOSKY. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the gentleman yielding and would add my voice to the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. KNOLLENBERG) in opposition to the amendment.

Mr. Chairman, my first concern is that we have just had a vote on this floor to, essentially, increase funding for renewables by $40 million. And secondly, I do think under the NERI program we are doing very important research. We are looking to continue to improve efficiency and reliability and to reduce the cost of existing nuclear energy applications. We are looking for proliferation resistant reactors in fuels. We are looking for new reactor designs with improved safety, higher efficiency,

and lower costs that would be competitive in the global market. And we are looking for new technologies for nuclear waste management and investigations into fundamental nuclear science.

I do oppose the amendment put forth and would encourage my colleagues to vote against it.

8:07 PM EDT

Pete Visclosky, D-IN 1st

Mr. VISCLOSKY. Mr. Chairman, I appreciate the gentleman yielding and would add my voice to the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. KNOLLENBERG) in opposition to the amendment.

Mr. Chairman, my first concern is that we have just had a vote on this floor to, essentially, increase funding for renewables by $40 million. And secondly, I do think under the NERI program we are doing very important research. We are looking to continue to improve efficiency and reliability and to reduce the cost of existing nuclear energy applications. We are looking for proliferation resistant reactors in fuels. We are looking for new reactor designs with improved safety, higher efficiency,

and lower costs that would be competitive in the global market. And we are looking for new technologies for nuclear waste management and investigations into fundamental nuclear science.

I do oppose the amendment put forth and would encourage my colleagues to vote against it.

8:08 PM EDT

Ron Packard, R-CA 48th

Mr. PACKARD. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of our time.

Mr. Chairman, I simply have to oppose this amendment because it totally eliminates the Nuclear Energy Research Initiative, which I think would be a terrible mistake. This has been an initiative very modestly funded while essential to keep nuclear energy safe and to continue nuclear energy as a viable part of our energy resources.

It is clean. It is proven to be safe. It is 20 percent of our Nation's electricity. And to eliminate the entire NERI project I think would be absolutely unconscionable.

We have beefed up, as has already been said just in the previous amendment tonight, $40 million additional to renewable energy resources. And we think that that is even beyond what is necessary, but certainly we are willing to do that. But to add $19 million more to that I think would not be appropriate.

And so, I urge all Members to vote against the amendment to cut nuclear R&D.

(Mr. BARTON of Texas asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)

8:08 PM EDT

Ron Packard, R-CA 48th

Mr. PACKARD. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself the balance of our time.

Mr. Chairman, I simply have to oppose this amendment because it totally eliminates the Nuclear Energy Research Initiative, which I think would be a terrible mistake. This has been an initiative very modestly funded while essential to keep nuclear energy safe and to continue nuclear energy as a viable part of our energy resources.

It is clean. It is proven to be safe. It is 20 percent of our Nation's electricity. And to eliminate the entire NERI project I think would be absolutely unconscionable.

We have beefed up, as has already been said just in the previous amendment tonight, $40 million additional to renewable energy resources. And we think that that is even beyond what is necessary, but certainly we are willing to do that. But to add $19 million more to that I think would not be appropriate.

And so, I urge all Members to vote against the amendment to cut nuclear R&D.

(Mr. BARTON of Texas asked and was given permission to revise and extend his remarks.)