Mr. WELCH. Mr. Chair, I have been sitting here listening to what, in fact, I think is a very interesting debate: what's the role that the taxpayer, through this body, should play in trying to steer an energy policy towards efficiency. There were a lot of contentious debates that we've had about energy policy, about climate change.
One of the areas where I have found that we have frequently had some common ground is the notion that less is more. Whatever the source of energy that you use or favor, if a consumer is able to use less oil--that's what we rely on in Vermont to heat our homes--or less electricity that's generated by nuclear, you can save money. And the efficiency title is one that gives us an opportunity to try to promote efficiency, where doing so has significant benefits.
Last year, Mr. Chair, we passed in this House--it failed in the Senate--an energy efficiency bill that would have given homeowners an incentive to put some of their money into home retrofits, and the government would have matched that. So you would have had an all-in situation.
And when you're retrofitting your home, you are using local contractors who have been hammered by the collapse in housing. They need work. It's work that is done locally in your district and mine. Ninety-five percent of the materials that are used in any kind of efficiency work in a commercial building or in home building are manufactured in America. So even without a debate about Make It in America, we would be getting the benefit of manufacturing in America. And obviously, it would then have
an impact of saving the homeowner money. That particular bill would have saved about $10 million in energy bills over 10 years. So that's real savings for homeowners.
The bill that is brought before the floor makes a decision to dramatically cut the efficiency title by about 27 percent, or $491 million. What my amendment would do is propose to restore that money and take that from the Nuclear Security Weapons Activities account which has $7.1 billion. So diverting the amount of money this amendment proposes would not wipe out that account in any way.
I think all of us would like to find some places we can work together despite the very significant differences between us; and efficiency, I found in the last Congress, was one of those areas where we had some potential to do it. Then-Ranking Member Barton was supportive of some of these efforts.
And the money in this title actually does end up promoting projects back in your district and mine. I will just give some examples. And these are small things. They are small things but important. In Burlington, Vermont, we had a program through this title that helped a community market install 136 solar panels on the roof of the city market that generated 31 kilowatts of power. I mean, that's not going to save the world, but it created jobs. It reduced their costs. And it was local, local people
In Waterbury, a home for seniors was retrofitted and improved with insulation, better boiler controls and efficient lighting. Again, it's not rocket science, but it's real. It was real Vermonters doing the installation work. It was insulation that was manufactured in America. And it made those seniors warmer. It made their bill lower. That kind of thing can happen all around. [Page: H4840]
In Lunenburg, Vermont, way up by the Canadian border, the 430-cow Auburn Star Farm got some loans and grants through a State energy program that was funded from this title. It allowed them to build a biodigester, and that digester will dispose of the waste from the dairy cows, produce biogas to generate electricity, and help the bottom line of that farm that is struggling with low milk prices and high costs.
So the real question that is before us is: Do we want to promote energy efficiency at the local level in all the various ways people can come up with to save money when we know that in your district or mine, Republican, Democrat, or independent, we've got out-of-work contractors, we've got homeowners who want to save money, and we've got manufacturers who want to sell their goods? So I urge the body to consider favorably the amendment that is before you.
I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. FRELINGHUYSEN. Certainly let me salute the gentleman from Vermont. Certainly Vermonters are often characterized as being independent and self-sufficient and self-reliant. Of course I would have to note for the record that you are 72 percent relying on nuclear power in Vermont. There may be other forms of power, so you might just want to check on that, just for the record.
Mr. Chairman, I rise in opposition to the amendment because this amendment decreases funding for weapons activities by $491 million in order to increase, as we heard, the Energy Efficiency and Renewable account. Modernization of the nuclear complex is a critical national priority and must be funded, and that doesn't matter whether it's the Obama administration or the Bush administration. All of our administrations are working to make sure that we have a nuclear stockpile that is safe, reliable,
With years of stagnant funding, we have put off long enough the investments that are needed to sustain our nuclear capabilities into the future. The funding in our bill for weapons activities is both now, as a result, timely and urgent. When every tax dollar must be spent well, we cannot enact cuts that will risk our national security while throwing money at poorly planned programs that have large balances, which I mentioned earlier--$9 billion in the EERE account that's unspent of stimulus money.
So not so reluctantly, I rise in opposition to the amendment and urge my colleagues to vote accordingly.
I yield back the balance of my time.
Mr. VISCLOSKY. Mr. Chairman, I also have to rise, with great respect to my colleague, in opposition to the amendment.
I certainly appreciate, having just talked about needing to invest in a mix of energy sources in the future, what the intent of the amendment is. He obviously wants to return us to where we are in fiscal year 2011. I would certainly point out for the record that at that level, $1.795 billion, we would still be significantly below where we were last year, fiscal year 2010, when our level of spending in this account was $2.24 billion.
The problem I have here is particularly where the money has come from, and that is the weapons account. Too often, and we saw it again last week, we do tend, I think unnecessarily, to hold the defense accounts harmless. In this case the committee has recommended, and it was very carefully considered, an increase in the weapons account. If the amendment was adopted, the fact is we would be $269 million below current year level, for a cut of 4.3 percent.
I have on numerous occasions in my district, in conversations with colleagues on the floor and elsewhere, suggested it is time, if we are going to solve our budget crisis in the United States of America, for everybody to belly up on both sides of the equation. And I don't care where you're getting you're paycheck or how you're earning your contract money; I cannot believe if you are a defense function of the Government of the United States you can't find one penny, one cent of savings out of
every dollar we spend. Having said that, that comes out to 1 percent. I think at this point the 4.3 percent in the weapons programs, that is very important as far as their safety, their security and surety, is a step beyond that 1 percent I have so often talked about the last months. So with great respect to my colleague, I would also oppose this amendment.
I yield back the balance of my time.