|7:29 PM EDT||
Matt Salmon, R-AZ 1st
Mr. SALMON. Mr. Chairman, I yield myself such time as I may consume.
Mr. Chairman, before I begin I would like to express my gratitude to the gentleman from California (Chairman PACKARD) for graciously accepting this amendment. He and his staff have been more than generous with their ideas, their time; and thanks to their efforts, we have agreed to fund renewable energy programs well above this year's subcommittee mark and above final funding levels for the last 2 years.
This is particularly notable given this year's limited House Energy and Water budget allocation. Again, I thank the gentleman. We will go golfing together when we get out of here.
Mr. Chairman, I would also like to offer special thanks to the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. UDALL) for his assistance and support of this amendment. His outstanding work is much appreciated by the renewable energy community, and myself, and the future of this planet. I thank the gentleman very much.
The amendment that the gentleman from Colorado and I are proposing today is a timely and responsible effort to increase funding for renewable energy for research and development programs. The amendment adds $40 million to the renewable energy budget. This funding is necessary to ensure continued quality research and development that is so vital to our national security.
The amendment is offset by a reduction in contractor travel. Though the committee cut funding for this program last year, abuses still persist. Additionally, given the choice between travel dollars for contractors and research dollars for the future of America, it is clear that we must choose the latter.
Today, I urge my colleagues to join me in declaring that the time for renewable energy is now. Americans are paying more for fuel right now than at any time in our history. Dependency on foreign oil is at all-time highs. We fought a war less than 10 years ago over threats to our oil supply, and we agreed then we had to decrease our reliance on foreign oil. Domestic oil production is down 17 percent since the start of the current administration.
Mr. Chairman, we must now work to diversify our energy portfolio and draw on domestic renewable energy resources that, given the funding and priority they deserve, will provide much- [Page: H5251]
needed reliable, affordable energy to American homes, businesses, and industry, and free us from foreign control.
The urgency of this situation is most clearly illustrated by the recent gas prices. Climbing fuel costs across the Nation have served as a painful reminder of our overdependence on foreign oil. For over a year, countries from the OPEC cartel and other oil-producing countries have conspired to steal from Americans by artificially inflating the price of oil. These hikes have had a dramatic effect on the life of every American and threaten the state of our economy.
Clearly, we rely too heavily on unreliable foreign oil supply from the world's most volatile region. We must lessen our dependence on foreign oil and recognize renewable energy as a vitally important and, I believe, undervalued component of responsible energy.
This morning, Secretary Richardson spoke before the Committee on International Relations and commented that our increased technology and renewable energy will be one of the factors that will bring oil prices back down and lessen our dependence on foreign oil.
Despite exciting advances and promising advantages, renewable energy has been underfunded in comparison to competing energy programs. From 1973, when Federal funding for renewable energy technologies started in earnest, through fiscal year 1996, in real 1977 dollars, the Federal Government has spent $42 billion for research and development in nuclear and $19 billion for fossil fuels.
Contrast those figures with the $11 billion spent for renewable energy research and development and $7 billion for energy efficiency. Clearly, renewable energy technologies need and deserve more comparable support, particularly in light of the fact that we are losing the technology race to other countries, causing an even greater imbalance in trade.
Countries like Germany and Japan are placing much higher priority on funding renewable energy research and development, posing the risk of U.S. technology advancement being lost to overseas competition.
Despite the financial inequity of research and development funding, renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies have made impressive progress. Take, for example, the advances being made in my home State of Arizona. Arizona recently became the first State to require that a certain percentage of our electricity come from solar sources and one of 27 States to require derivation of energy from renewable sources, including landfill gas, wind and biomass generators.
These renewable energy technologies are steadily gaining acceptance and are just beginning to deliver on the promise of clean, abundant, reliable and increasingly competitive renewable energy. I am confident that with consistent, healthy funding, renewable energy technologies will continue to faithfully deliver on that promise.
As my colleagues know, or many of them know and probably are happy about this, this is my final term, and the close of my service as chairman of the House Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus. I am very pleased at the progress that renewables have made during my stewardship. House caucus membership is at an all-time high of 160 Members. Senate caucus membership has grown to an impressive 26 Members. Nationwide support for renewable energy is strong and growing, and funding levels are
back on the rise.
I am optimistic about this year's House and Senate funding levels and hope that, as more funds become available, the conference bill will further boost appropriations for renewable energy and energy efficiency programs.
I urge my colleagues to support renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. Together, we can ensure a secure, abundant, clean and promising renewable energy future.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.