|7:36 PM EDT||
Mark Udall, D-CO 2nd
Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. Chairman, I rise today to offer this amendment with the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. SALMON) who chairs the House Caucus on Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, and with the gentleman from New York (Mr. BOEHLERT) and the gentlewoman from Ohio (Ms. KAPTUR). I especially want to thank the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. SALMON) for working with me on this amendment. This is our second joint effort in the last 2 years.
I join with many of my colleagues in saying we will miss the leadership of the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. SALMON) on this issue. We look forward to working with him from his home State of Arizona, and who knows what the future may hold.
I do also want to thank the gentleman from California (Chairman PACKARD) and the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. VISCLOSKY), ranking member, for agreeing to accept this amendment.
The amendment will add $40 million to solar and renewable energy programs in fiscal 2001 and will offset this sum with Department of Energy contractor funds. While this increase is not even close to the levels of the request, it is a good start, and I hope it can begin a trend toward increased funding for these programs in future years.
After all the rhetoric we have been hearing in the last few weeks in the newspapers, on the talk shows, and on the floor about our lack of an energy policy, I am glad to have this opportunity today to rise above recrimination to get to the heart of the problem.
I want to talk about the importance of agreeing on a long-term energy policy, one that requires us to think beyond today's gasoline prices and beyond the elections in November. I want to talk about the real crisis that will develop in 10 or 20 years from now when oil prices will probably go up permanently as a result of increasing global demand and of passing the peak in global petroleum production.
We have not done enough to prepare for this eventuality. But we might have the opportunity to do so now. If there is a silver lining to the current crisis in oil prices, it is that we are being forced to consider alternative energy sources.
The Department of Energy has been looking into these alternatives for years. Twenty years after research on clean energy technologies began, these technologies are becoming a part of the solution to concerns about the quality of our water and air and changes in our climate.
DOE's renewable energy programs are vital to our Nation's interests, helping to provide strategies and tools to address the environmental challenges we will face in the coming decades. By reducing air pollution and other environmental impacts from energy production and use, these programs also constitute the single largest and most effective Federal pollution prevention program.
Investments in sustainable energy technologies meet multiple other public policy objectives. Far from decreasing, U.S. dependence on imported oil has actually increased to record levels over the past 25 years. The gentleman from Arizona (Mr. SALMON) and I are old enough to remember the gas lines and the early crisis of the early 1970s. These programs are helping us to reduce our reliance on oil imports, thereby strengthening our national security, and also creating hundreds of new domestic
businesses, supporting thousands of American jobs, and opening new international markets for American goods and services.
It is estimated that the world market for energy supply and construction over the next 30 years will be in the range of several hundred billion dollars per year. America currently leads the world technologically in developing advanced renewable instruments and products; and we cannot, I say cannot, afford to surrender this lead to our foreign competitors.
Past Federal support for sustainable energy programs has been key to the rapid growth of these emerging renewable technologies. Solar, wind, geothermal, and biomass technologies have together more than tripled their contribution to the Nation's energy mix of our Nation over the last two decades. Including hydropower renewables, renewables now account for over [Page: H5252]
10 percent of domestic energy production, and approximately 13 percent of domestic electricity
While these technologies have become increasingly cost-competitive, the pace of their penetration into the market will be determined largely by government support for future research and development as well as by assistance in catalyzing public-private partnerships, leading to full commercialization.
Not only economic independence, but also environmental health and lower energy costs are advanced by our investment in renewable energy. But for our investment in these technologies to pay off, efforts must be sustained over the long term. It is time for us to recognize the value of clean energy research and development to our communities and to our world and to commit to sustaining our investment in clean energy in the years to come.
Our amendment does not quite do all that should be done, but it does greatly improve the bill. I urge its adoption.
Mr. Chairman, I reserve the balance of my time.