|7:45 PM EDT||
Marcy Kaptur, D-OH 9th
Ms. KAPTUR. Mr. Chairman, I thank the gentleman from Colorado (Mr. UDALL) for yielding me this time, and I also want to thank the gentleman from Arizona (Mr. SALMON) and the gentleman from New York (Mr. BOEHLERT) for their cosponsorship of this very important amendment.
I want to also thank the chairman of the subcommittee, the gentleman from California (Mr. PACKARD), and the ranking member, the gentleman from Indiana (Mr. VISCLOSKY), for their cooperation. Because when this legislation was considered in the full Committee on Appropriations, I offered an amendment to make sure that we did not spend any less this coming year than we did the current year, and the original bill that came to us was about $12 million under what we were spending for
this area of renewables and solar. In fact, it was $106 million under the administration's request. The gentleman from California (Mr. Packard) very willingly tried to work with us and to tick up this account a bit.
Certainly in light of rising fuel prices in this country, we really thank the chairman for his cooperation and interest, and I sincerely hope as this bill progresses farther down the appropriations process in our work with the other body we will be able to find additional dollars for this important addition to America's energy security.
Every person in this Chamber and every American listening tonight knows that this is the right direction for America, and that in fact America's chief strategic vulnerability now is our energy dependence. To see American diplomats on their knees to the leaders of other countries, oil producing states, asking them to try to take care of us and to increase their production, is not a position America wants to be in at the beginning of this new millennium.
We spend over $50 billion a year on imported petroleum products and crude. And when we go and pump gasoline in our tanks, over half of every dollar that we spend goes in the pocket of a leader of business in some other nation, not this one. To put it in perspective, America's farmland and our farmers, our agriculture infrastructure, can produce enough energy to replace half of our Nation's gasoline usage and all of our nuclear power supply. And we can do so without a major impact on food prices.
That is how productive agricultural America can be if given this challenge.
Imagine taking that $50 billion we pay to someone else and putting it to work here at home for domestic investment in rural America, in terms of jobs created for production, harvesting, storage of biofuel inputs, and industrial growth with the creation of facilities for the conversion of biomass to fuel. What an energy boost, in fact, this would be and an income boost for so many communities across this country.
I have been very surprised at how slow we have made progress in this [Page: H5253]
area. Progress has come, but not in as fast a way as we have seen progress, for example, in our space program. So I rise in very strong support of the amendment. This is the right direction for America, the right direction for the future, and I commend both gentlemen.