|1:45 PM EDT||
Pete Sessions, R-TX 32nd
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, for the purpose of debate only, I yield the customary 30 minutes to the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern), pending which I yield myself such time as I may consume. During consideration of this resolution, all time yielded is for the purpose of debate only.
Mr. Speaker, this rule being considered on the floor today is a very balanced rule that makes in order 22 Democratic amendments, three bipartisan amendments and five Republican amendments. This means that of the 30 amendments that we will be considering here on the floor over the next 2 days, over 80 percent of them have been substantially authored by a Democrat, giving the minority party a fair and public opportunity to come to the floor and debate how their dissenting views could improve this
Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of this legislation which improves and strengthens our country's national energy policy. American prosperity and American jobs rely upon energy that is abundant, affordable and reliable.
Having access to save affordable energy is fundamental to America's success, both as a Nation and to each and every one of us as individual Americans and certainly our families.
The safe and reliable energy available here in America has brought economic growth, jobs, freedom, and the highest quality of life in human history. This is why the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Barton), my good friend, has invested so much of his committee's time and effort in bringing a product to the floor today that takes important steps to ensuring that secure and reliable energy for our country is made available.
The legislation that we consider here on the floor today ensures that American producers can meet the demands placed upon them by consumers while also creating incentives to modernize the way we find, develop, and produce energy. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 will create jobs here in America as we promote innovation, new conservation requirements, and new domestic energy sources. Reliable sources of energy also will secure millions of existing jobs over the decades, and producing more domestic
energy will mean Americans can worry less about whether the outcomes of distant conflicts will mean fewer jobs, less growth, and reduced opportunity.
Some of the most important accomplishments of this legislation include improving our Nation's electricity transmission capacity and reliability; promoting a cleaner environment by encouraging new innovations and the use of alternate power sources; promoting clean coal technology; and providing incentives for renewable energies such as biomass, wind, solar, and hydroelectricity; providing leadership in energy conservation; clarifying the Federal Government's role in siting liquified natural gas,
known as LNG, facilities; decreasing America's dangerous dependence on foreign oil; and encouraging more nuclear and hydropower production.
The provisions in this legislation will also create hundreds of thousands of jobs due to the costs associated with the current high energy prices. The new jobs will be in all sectors, including manufacturing, construction, agriculture, and technology.
Another important benefit of this legislation is its crucial energy conservation and environmental protection measures that will improve the quality of life for all Americans for decades to come. Among other things that the bill will do, it will make the Federal Government a leading-edge creator and consumer of energy-efficient technologies; it will fund a state-of-the-art project and program to get hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles on the road by 2020; it will improve regulation on hydroelectric dams
to allow for more hydroelectric power generation while preserving existing protections for the environment; increasing funding for the Department of Energy's Clean Cities program; authorize two new Clean School Bus programs; take critical steps towards reducing greenhouse gas emissions; and will bring much-needed supplies of natural gas to the public by allowing for more natural gas exploration, transportation, and development.
Further, it will increase America's use of solar energy; it will contain a renewable fuels requirement to add 5 billion gallons per year of ethanol and other renewable-based fuel to the Nation's gasoline supply; it will provide $1.8 billion for the Clean Coal Power initiative; and it will increase funding for the Department of Transportation to continue its already very important work on incorporating average fuel economy standards.
Mr. Speaker, I am very proud of these accomplishments that are being made by this legislation and would like to take this opportunity to commend the hard work of many committee chairmen who have toiled late into the night, along with their staffs, for the production of this bill, including the gentleman from Texas (Chairman Barton), the gentleman from California (Chairman Pombo), the gentleman from [Page: H2181]
California (Chairman Thomas),
and the gentleman from New York (Chairman Boehlert), and crafting this important legislation on behalf of American families and workers. I encourage all of my colleagues to support this very important not only fair rule but also the underlying legislation.
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
|1:59 PM EDT||
Pete Sessions, R-TX 32nd
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker I yield myself such time as I may consume.
This bill is pro-consumer. This energy bill is pro-growth for our economy in this country. And the Republican majority owes a great deal of the strength and ability of this strong bill to a strong leader that we have, and at this time I would like to yield time to that gentleman.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 3 minutes to the gentleman from San Dimas, California (Mr. Dreier), chairman of the Committee on Rules.
|2:05 PM EDT||
Marsha Blackburn, R-TN 7th
Mrs. BLACKBURN. Mr. Speaker, this is interesting, hearing our colleagues talk about this bill. I think that people and many of our colleagues know that this bill has been born out over 4 years of hard work, hundreds of hearings, hundreds of hours of testimony. It is a balanced bill. Mr. Speaker, I certainly believe it is one that bridges the needs that we have today with where we need to be in the future as we look to renewable energy sources and alternative sources.
One of the things that the chairman mentioned a few moments ago is bipartisan support that we have had on some of our initiatives, and certainly we feel like we will see this on the energy bill. We saw it in committee, and I would commend the gentleman from Texas (Chairman Barton) for the wonderful work he did on the bill in committee.
Over the past few weeks, we had 122 Democrats that voted with us on the continuity of government bill, 50 Democrats voted with us on class action, 73 Democrats voted with us on bankruptcy reform, and 42 supported us on repeal of the death tax, and our REAL I.D. Act. I hope this is a sign of things to come, that there will be bipartisan cooperation as we look to this energy bill, because it is a fair bill. It is a fair rule that addresses this bill.
Mr. Speaker, supporting this rule and supporting this bill is good for small business. It is great for American small business, for Main Street, for jobs creation. We have an economy that has created nearly 2 million jobs in the past couple of years, 3 million jobs in the past couple of years. We are excited about what is happening with the growth of the economy. We know that this bill is going to do good work in continuing to support Main Street, support our small business community, support
our small business manufacturers, and will address some of the concerns they have about energy policy, oil policy, electrical policy and how it affects the business that they carry forth every day.
Mr. Speaker, I encourage my colleagues to support the rule and to support the bill.
|2:22 PM EDT||
Pete Sessions, R-TX 32nd
Mr. SESSIONS. Mr. Speaker, a gentleman who came to the Rules Committee last night to seek the opportunity to debate today this very important energy bill is here with us today.
Mr. Speaker, I yield 2 minutes to the gentleman from Tennessee ( Mr. Wamp).
|2:22 PM EDT||
Zach Wamp, R-TN 3rd
Mr. WAMP. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding time to me. I am torn, I will have to tell you. I support the President, and I support the President's request for a national energy policy.
But he sent a request for $6.7 billion of tax incentives, 72 percent of which was for renewables and energy efficiency; and this base bill has 6 percent of the total for those two very important functions given the crisis that we face today.
I am the cochairman of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus. Over half of the House are members. We asked for four amendments last night to ratchet this back up some, just a little; and all four were denied. That is not right.
Yet there are so many important things in this bill. So I am torn. I do not want to vote against the new residential personal 15 percent tax credit for photovoltaics that does not exist today, or the 20 percent tax credit for homeowners to install energy-efficiency improvements to their home, or Charlie Bass's billion dollar rebate program for investment in renewable energy.
But I am telling you, all of it together is 6 percent instead of 72 percent that our President asked us for. I am [Page: H2186]
for the President. I am for his plan. And I hope that the conference report after we work with the Senate has it all in there, because no one in this House wants an energy policy more than me. I have worked for a decade as an appropriator on those important investments, yet I asked for amendments to improve this bill, and every one of them
|2:24 PM EDT||
Anna G. Eshoo, D-CA 14th
Ms. ESHOO. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman for yielding me this time. I rise in opposition to this rule. The State of California sends $50 billion more to the Federal Government while getting nothing in return for that $50 billion.
With this bill, Californians are being asked to sacrifice even more while getting nothing in return. Here are some examples: according to the Department of Energy, the bill will raise gasoline prices by 8 cents a gallon. I think that that is an outrage.
The bill's MTBE liability waiver will let refiners off the hook for cleaning up drinking water that has been contaminated by their product. Local governments are going to have to pay the entire cost. And the CBO has said this is an unfunded mandate.
The bill will undermine the ability of States to ensure that liquefied natural gas terminals are sited and operate safely. The bill will undermine States' appeals rights under the Coastal Zone Management Act.
The bill paves the way for building energy facilities on the outer continental shelf, including areas subject to gas and oil drilling.
In listening to State leaders about this bill, I could not find anyone, from the Governor on down, who has said that this is a wonderful bill and it should be supported and passed. Instead, I have heard many concerns, from the Lieutenant Governor, from members of the Governor's cabinet, the attorney general, the coastal commission, the Public Utilities Commission, local governments, and water utilities.
Mr. Speaker, I will include in the RECORD a packet of letters from the coastal commission, the California PUC, the lieutenant governor, and the California Ocean Protection Council.
Under this rule, I do not think we even have the opportunity to debate and vote on the most important amendments dealing with them.
I ask my colleagues, particularly my California colleagues, to join me in voting against the rule and the underlying bill.
The letters previously referred to are as follows:
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
Washington, DC, April 19, 2005.
Re House Consideration of Comprehensive Energy Legislation.
Hon. ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER,
Governor, State Capitol Building,
DEAR GOVERNOR SCHWARZENEGGER, On April 13th, our committees (the House Committee on Energy and Commerce and the House Committee on Resources) completed work on elements of a comprehensive energy bill that will come before the full House of Representatives as soon as April 20th.
After participating in the debate and reviewing the products that emerged from our respective committees, we foresee serious dangers for the State of California if this legislation is enacted.
While the delegation has received your letter supporting the removal of the participant funding section from the electricity title of the bill, we have not heard from you about other provisions that will more directly and immediately affect California. As we and other members of the delegation determine how to best represent the interests of our State, we believe it's important to understand your views on some of the key provisions before us as well as your overall position on the legislation.
Most of the elements of the legislation are not new. They were part of the conference report on H.R. 6, which was considered by the House and Senate in 2003. Among the few new provisions are those that would further disadvantage our State. We've described below some of the provisions that we consider most troubling for California.
LIQUEFIED NATURAL GAS (LNG) FACILITY SITING (NEW PROVISIONS)
The bill will hand over exclusive jurisdiction for the siting of liquefied natural gas (LNG) facilities to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), preventing the states from having a role in approving the location of LNG terminals and the conditions under which these terminals must operate. In addition, states will have to seek FERC permission before conducting safety inspections, and they will be barred from taking any independent enforcement action against LNG terminal operators for
safety violations. Finally, for the next six years, LNG terminal operators will be allowed to withhold underutilized capacity from other LNG suppliers. In other words, LNG terminal operators can legally exercise market power to drive up the cost of natural gas. When the El Paso Corporation and its independent affiliates allegedly conspired to withhold natural gas pipeline capacity in order to inflate the costs of natural gas and electricity in California in 2000 and 2001, the State sought relief
from FERC and the courts. E1 Paso eventually agreed to a $1.5 billion settlement to partially compensate California consumers for its anticompetitive actions. Under this bill, it would become legal for an LNG terminal operator to engage in similar anticompetitive behavior.
For these reasons, the provision is unanimously opposed by the California Public Utilities Commission, which, as you know, is fighting FERC in the courts for jurisdiction over an LNG terminal in the heart of the Port of Long Beach. This provision is also opposed by the California Ocean Protection Council, which includes two members of your cabinet, and the California Coastal Commission.
EROSION OF STATES' RIGHTS UNDER THE COASTAL ZONE MANAGEMENT ACT (CZMA) (PROVISIONS FROM H.R. 6)
The bill weakens California's rights under the Coastal Zone Management Act to object to a FERC-approved coastal pipeline or energy facility project when the project is inconsistent with the State's federally-approved coastal management program. Currently when there is a disagreement about a project, the Secretary of Commerce, through an administrative appeals process, determines whether and under what conditions the project can go forward. States can present new evidence supporting their arguments
to the Secretary. Under this bill, states will not be allowed to present new evidence to the Secretary, and the Secretary will not be allowed to seek out evidence on his or her own. The Secretary will only be allowed to rely on the record compiled by FERC. Furthermore, the bill imposes an expedited timeline for appeals, which may not allow a full review of the facts. The California Coastal Commission and the California Ocean Protection Council oppose this provision.
ENERGY RELATED FACILITIES ON THE OUTER CONTINENTAL SHELF (OCS) (PROVISIONS FROM H.R. 6)
The bill will give the Department of Interior permitting authority for ``alternative'' energy projects, such as wind projects, situated on the Outer Continental Shelf (OCS). It also grants the Department of Interior authority to permit other types of energy facilities, including facilities to ``support the exploration, development, production, transportation, or storage of oil, natural gas, or other minerals.'' These facilities could be permitted within coastal areas currently subject to congressional
moratoria on oil and gas leasing. (Again, both the California Coastal Commission and the California Ocean Protection Council have indicated that they oppose this provision.)
ETHANOL MANDATE (PROVISION FROM H.R. 6)
The Clean Air Act's two percent oxygenate requirement forces refiners selling gasoline in California to blend more ethanol into their fuel than is needed for air quality purposes. Instead of improving air quality, the unnecessary use of ethanol is increasing pollution in parts of the State, according to a preliminary report from the California Air Resources Board. The oxygenate requirement is also adding to the cost of fuel. Last year, you asked the U.S. EPA to waive the oxygenate requirement,
and last week, 50 members of the California congressional delegation reiterated support for your request in a letter to Acting EPA Administrator Stephen L. Johnson.
Under the energy bill coming before the House, however, California refiners will have to blend even more ethanol into their gasoline or pay (in the form of credit purchases) not to use it. Two years ago, a Department of Energy analysis of this provision indicated that it could add more than 8 cents to [Page: H2187]
the cost of a gallon of gasoline. In a time of skyrocketing gas prices, this new mandate amounts to hidden tax on California motorists, which will subsidize
a single industry located largely in the Midwest.
While some have argued that the ethanol mandate will be a boon to California agriculture, we see no evidence to support this argument. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), the ethanol mandate will greatly expand production of corn-based ethanol, but only 0.2% of the nation's corn is produced in California. More important, EIA projects that the ethanol mandate will result in no increase in the production of cellulosic ethanol (ethanol made from agricultural and forestry
residues and other resources), which is the primary type of ethanol that can be produced in California.
MTBE LIABILITY WAIVER AND TRANSITION FUND (PROVISIONS FROM H.R. 6)
The bill provides liability protection for the producers of the gasoline additive MTBE, hampering the efforts of local governments, water utilities, and others to hold producers and oil companies responsible for the costs of cleaning drinking water supplies that have been contaminated by MTBE. In California, South Lake Tahoe and Santa Monica have been able to reach settlements with the industry for the cleanup of their drinking water after successfully arguing that the industry sold a defective
product. If the liability protection in the bill is enacted, then MTBE will be deemed a safe product and the industry will be relieved from virtually any obligation to pay cleanup costs. In June 2003, fourteen state attorneys general wrote in opposition to this
provision, and the provision has been opposed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors, the National League of Cities, the National Association of Counties, the National Association of Towns and Townships, and the Association of California Water Agencies, among others.
REFINERY REVITALIZATION (NEW PROVISIONS)
This bill includes language which will require the Secretary of Energy to designate ``refinery revitalization zones'' in areas that have experienced mass layoffs or contain an idle refinery and have an unemployment rate that exceeds the national average by 10 percent. In areas that meet these criteria, the Secretary of Energy is given authority to site a new refinery within six months of receiving a petition for approval. The criteria outlined in the language would result in much of California
being designated a ``refinery revitalization zone,'' from Imperial to East Los Angeles and north of San Jose. In fact, more than half of California's 53 congressional districts would be subject to these provisions.
This language erodes the state, air board and communities permitting and enforcement authority for these refineries by granting sweeping new authority to the Department of Energy. The Department is empowered to coordinate and set binding deadlines for all federal authorizations and environmental reviews, including those currently conducted by air quality management districts. The Department of Energy, however, is not trained and experienced in issuing air permits and is not familiar with the
various rules implemented by local agencies as part of the State Implementation Plan (SIP) required by the Clean Air Act. For these reasons, the South Coast Air Quality Management District has expressed serious reservations about this provision.
PREEMPTING CALIFORNIA APPLIANCE EFFICIENCY STANDARDS (NEW PROVISION)
An amendment added to the bill in the Energy and Commerce Committee will preempt California's new efficiency standards for ceiling fans, pending the implementation of a federal standard. The U.S. Department of Energy has been notoriously slow in propounding efficiency standards, falling years behind statutory deadlines for setting or updating efficiency standards for other appliances, such as air conditioners. Preempting California and forcing it to wait indefinitely for a federal standard runs
completely against the State's effort to reduce electricity demand. Indeed, the ceiling fan standard is part of a California Energy Commission demand reduction package that will reduce peak power demand by 1,000 megawatts within 10 years, saving consumers $75 a year in energy costs and conserving as much power as can be generated by three large power plants.
HYDROELECTRIC DAM RELICENSING (PROVISIONS FROM H.R. 6)
The bill restructures the hydroelectric relicensing process to give special preference to dam operators. Other parties with legitimate interests in relicensing, including states, tribes, conservationists, farmers, and fishermen, would not be afforded the same opportunities.
Under current law, federal resource agencies can impose conditions on a hydroelectric license for the protection of natural resources and wildlife. Under the bill a dam operator, and only a dam operator, will be entitled to a trial-type hearing before a resource agency to dispute the evidence that the agency uses to justify placing conditions on a license. The bill also requires resource agencies to accept alternative license conditions proposed by a dam operator. Otherwise, the agencies must
meet nearly impossible standards to justify a decision to deny the alternative.
River resources belong to more than dam operators. With licenses that last for up to 50 years, relicensing is one of the few chances to make sure that resources are adequately protected for all stakeholders. In California, there are more than 300 federally-regulated hydroelectric dams; over 200 will undergo relicensing in the next 10 to 15 years. Denying all stakeholders equal footing in the process is fundamentally unfair and is a recipe for protracted litigation.
We believe there are many other aspects of the legislation which will have a negative impact on our State, but these provisions clearly run contrary to the interests of California, and we believe they will undermine the policies and positions the State is pursuing under your Administration. Before the delegation votes on this legislation, Members should have the benefit of your views on these provisions and the bill as a whole. This legislation is too important a matter for the nation's largest
state to be silent on.
Although time is short, the issues we've outlined have been in the public domain for the past several months, going back to November 2003 in most cases. Therefore, we ask for your input before the House votes on this legislation this week. Thank you for timely consideration of this important request.
Anna G. Eshoo,
Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Henry A. Waxman,
Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Committee on Energy and Commerce.
Grace F. Napolitano,
Committee on Resources.
Committee on Resources.
Hilda L. Solis,
Committee on Energy and Commerce.
|2:29 PM EDT||
Barney Frank, D-MA 4th
Mr. FRANK of Massachusetts. Mr. Speaker, this rule to begin with is further evidence of the contempt which the majority of this House has for something called democracy.
We have heard in a few brief minutes from both a Republican and a Democrat their unhappiness that important issues will not be brought forward.
Why? Well, we work probably all day today; we may work a half day tomorrow. So in this week when we could have worked many days and debated many amendments at length, we will have some not discussed at all and others discussed for a handful of minutes because this majority cannot be bothered with anything as cumbersome to them as open debate and having Members have to record themselves.
One of the issues which is given inadequate time, it is given some time but inadequate time, I think 10 minutes, is an outrageous effort by the majority to further diminish the ability of elected State governments to defend their own citizens.
State governments are sometimes popular around here and sometimes not. When State governments, democratically elected governors and legislatures, appear to be obstacles to letting major players in the energy industry get whatever they want, then they are to be diminished, they are to be dismissed, they are to be thrown out of the process.
With regard to liquefied natural gas terminals, a very important issue, an issue which has become more important because of their relevance to the terrorism threat which security officials tell us is the case, this bill takes a limited State role in the siting of these and makes it a nonexistent State role.
The ability of governors and legislatures--I have a Republican governor in my State who does not like a proposal to site an energy plant in a wholly inappropriate place, way up river in the city of Four Rivers, which the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. McGovern) and I share. This governor's objections will be muffled. So I guess I should congratulate you on the bipartisanship of your contempt for democracy. It is not just our colleague from Tennessee who could not get amendments through;
my Republican governor cannot get his voice heard.
This rule and this bill ought to be defeated.
|2:31 PM EDT||
Louie Gohmert Jr., R-TX 1st
Mr. GOHMERT. Mr. Speaker, I thank the gentleman from Texas (Mr. Sessions) for yielding me time.
Many of you have heard the story about the fellow that was sitting on his porch and water came trickling through his yard. A fellow drove by in his Jeep and said, Jump on, the dam is giving way; this place is going to be flooded. And he said, I've got faith in God; God is going to save me.
The guy drives off.
Here comes more water. Here comes a boat. The guy in the boat says, Jump in, there is more water coming. The guy, No, I have faith in God; God is going to save me. And he climbs up on the rooftop as the water gets higher and higher.
Here comes a helicopter. He drops a ladder and with a megaphone says, Grab hold of the ladder. The man says, No, I have got faith in God; God is going to save me.
The water gets higher. The man drowns. He goes to heaven. He says, God I had faith in you. Why did you not save me? God said, I sent you a Jeep and a boat and helicopter, why did you not make use of it?
When we hear people crying today, We need oil, we need gasoline with prices that are down, we need natural gas prices to come down, I cannot help but hear this small voice saying, Use what I gave you.
This Nation has been so richly blessed with so much in the way of resources. It is time to end the excuses. We can always find excuses, things we do not like about any bill. They sure do that down the hall.
It is time to end the excuses. It is time down the hall to finally do the right thing and use the resources with which this Nation has been so richly blessed.
|2:33 PM EDT||
James Davis, D-FL 11th
Mr. DAVIS of Florida. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this rule and urge its defeat.
This is a bad bill for my State of Florida. The bill could be made much better, including by an amendment that I have offered, that the Committee on Rules refused to be made in order.
This bill, in my judgment, guts the Coastal Zone Management Act. What is this law? This is a law that allows governors, Governor Jeb Bush, Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, to have their voices heard as to where a particular facility might be sited. It does not give the State a right to veto the decision, just simply to have its voice heard. [Page: H2190]
What this bill does is undermine that process that has worked very well for decades, and the rule deprives the House of Representatives of an open and honest debate about the fact that this bill is tantamount to repeal of the Coastal Zone Management Act, and I do not think any Member of Congress wants to stand on this floor and admit or agree that we should repeal the Coastal Zone Management Act.
We are once again, remarkably, trampling on the rights of our States. We are substituting the judgment of governors with bureaucrats in Washington that are expected to understand our States better in terms of environmental impact, in terms of economic impacts.
The beaches on the coast of State of the Florida should be judged and policed by the governor of the State of Florida, not by somebody in an agency in Washington.
I urge defeat of the rule.
|2:37 PM EDT||
Shelley Berkley, D-NV 1st
Ms. BERKLEY. Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this rule and the underlying bill because, despite Republican claims, this energy bill really does not help American families with the cost of power or the skyrocketing gas prices. This bill does, however, help the administration's special interest friends. It is riddled with billions of dollars of taxpayer giveaways to the nuclear, oil and gas industries.
I am appalled that we are doing nothing to reduce gas prices at a time when oil companies are reaping obscene profits. Current prices of oil are lingering at $50 a barrel and are expected to continue to skyrocket.
We should be focusing on reducing our dependence on foreign oil by diversifying our energy sources, not by encouraging more oil and gas production.
This bill does little to promote renewable energy, the energy of our future. Given the latest revelations about the wanton falsification of scientific studies of the proposed Yucca Mountain Repository, Congress should not funnel one more penny of taxpayer dollars into the Yucca Mountain Project.
Additional problems continued to plague the site. The courts have ruled that the EPA radiation standards will not protect the health and safety of the American people. Instead of making the United States safer, the proposed Yucca Mountain Project provides a terrorist target that could cause massive economic and civilian casualties.
In the Committee on Rules, my colleague, the gentleman from Nevada (Mr. Porter) and I offered a simple amendment that would have included Yucca Mountain in the Nuclear Site Threat Assessment Study, already a part of the energy bill. Despite the findings of the GAO and the National Academy of Sciences that there are security vulnerabilities present at reactor sites during high-level radioactive waste, there has been no threat assessment conducted at the mother of all radioactive waste
sites, Yucca Mountain.
Regardless of how any of us feels about Yucca Mountain, the Federal Government has a duty to assess the risks, not just to protect Nevada and our neighbors in the West, but for the well-being of our Nation. Unfortunately, the Committee on Rules did not put that amendment in order.
Now is the time to create an energy plan that will wean our country off of foreign oil. It is not the time to line the pockets of the special interests.
I urge my colleagues to oppose this very backward, very foolish, very good piece of legislation if you are in the energy business.
|2:45 PM EDT||
Joe Barton, R-TX 6th
Mr. BARTON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I want to rise in strong support of the rule. It is a good rule in spite of some of the comments that been made about it. The process has been fair. I want to make a few very quick remarks.
The committees of jurisdiction each held an open markup. The committee that I chair, the markup, including opening statements, took 3 1/2 days. We considered every amendment that was offered; and we accepted, I would say, 40 percent of the amendments. Many of those were accepted from Members of the minority of my committee who ended up voting against the bill; but because I felt it improved the bill, we took the amendments enthusiastically.
Eighty amendments were offered at the Committee on Rules yesterday. I believe that the Committee on Rules has made in order about 30 of those. It may be a little bit fewer than that, but a large number of amendments have been made in order, including a substitute by the gentleman from Michigan (Mr. Dingell), the ranking member of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
We accepted amendments on the floor on some of the more controversial areas in the bill. My good friend, the gentleman from Massachusetts (Mr. Frank), was speaking earlier about the LNG siting provision. The gentleman from Delaware (Mr. Castle) will have an amendment on the floor sometime tomorrow to strike that provision. I happen to think the LNG siting provision is a good part of the bill. We are importing more net liquefied natural gas, and we are going to import more. We
need to find areas to site those facilities. It is interstate commerce, so the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission does have primary jurisdiction; but the bill before us says the States shall be involved, not may be, shall be.
The bill before us has a specific list of conditions that have to be considered, including population density and alternative siting. The bill before us has a first-time-ever guarantee that the States have the automatic right to go in and inspect these facilities for safety conditions.
We have worked very hard on that LNG siting provision to make sure that States are very involved; but ultimately, on the final decision, as it should be because this is interstate commerce, the FERC is the one that makes the final decision.
So, Mr. Speaker, I know this is a contentious bill. It has been before the House each of the last two Congresses. We have passed it. The last Congress we passed the conference report, but the Senate did not bring it up. Today or tomorrow, we want to pass this bill. We want to go to conference with the Senate later this spring, bring back the conference report and put a bill on the President's desk to help our energy future.
I would urge a ``yes'' vote on the rule. It is a good rule and fair to all involved.
|2:48 PM EDT||
Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-TX 30th
Ms. EDDIE BERNICE JOHNSON of Texas. Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for allowing me to take some time.
Mr. Speaker, I urge my colleagues to oppose this rule and the underlying bill. In a desire to pass any comprehensive energy bill, some of my colleagues may be willing to overlook the massive damage that this bill would do to our existing clean air policies. I do not blame the energy companies for ignoring their responsibility. It is our responsibility to protect the people as the people's representatives against dangers.
As a matter of fact, I acknowledge and applaud TXU and UPS for their efforts in the right direction in north Texas, but section 1443 of H.R. 6 would give polluters in dirty-air areas extra time to continue polluting.
Under the existing act, areas that have unhealthy air are required to reduce ozone-forming smog pollution by set statutory deadlines. Section 1443 would delay the adoption of urgently needed anti-pollution measures in communities throughout this country for a decade or more. My amendments presented to the Committee on Rules would have corrected this or would have also given some time for the companies to record their progress; but, of course, they were not made in order.
My colleagues will hear that the EPA does not disapprove of this. Well, is anybody surprised? These are the people who were appointed by the same people that allowed the energy companies to write most of this bill.
This provision will mean more asthma attacks, hospital visits, and premature deaths for residents of the [Page: H2192]
ozone odor nonattainment areas which includes the area that all my great friends over here live in and I live in. We need a fair bill that addresses the urgent need for clean air for ourselves and our children.
Mr. Speaker, prolonging our dirty air problem is not the solution. I urge my colleagues that desire clean air for themselves and their constituents to oppose this rule and oppose this bill. I am from an energy-producing State.