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Bud Cramer Jr., D-AL 5th
Mr. CRAMER. I thank my friends from Tennessee, and I thank the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee where I spent so many valuable years, the staff on both sides of the aisle. I have appreciated what you have meant to my congressional district and what you have meant to the Tennessee Valley Authority as well.
I rise today to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Tennessee Valley Authority. I think it's only appropriate that we do this during what we hope will be the last hours of this, the 110th Congress.
In the 110th Congress, I had the honor of serving as the cochair of the congressional TVA Caucus, which has existed since I have been here, before I [Page: H10139]
was here. I have been here 18 years. I have cochaired this caucus along with Senator Lamar Alexander from Tennessee, so we have had a House-Senate partnership there.
There are 41 House and Senate Members that comprise this very proactive Tennessee Valley Authority Caucus. As I look around the room today, many of our House Members that have participated in that caucus are here today.
My friends have talked about when TVA was created. Mr. Duncan, we know that TVA is wonderfully headquartered up there in your congressional district in Knoxville. When TVA was first chartered back in 1933, it was headquartered in the Muscle Shoals area of north Alabama, so we still reluctantly accept that you have the headquarters there that we had back when TVA was first chartered back in 1933.
Let's remember back to 1933. It was the Great Depression. At that time the agriculture industry, which was the bread and butter of the Tennessee Valley, had collapsed. Trying to make ends meet, the people of the valley had overfarmed their land, leading to widespread erosion, soil depletion and low crop yields.
As part of this New Deal program, President Franklin Roosevelt envisioned TVA as a different kind of government agency that could be backed by the power of the United States Government but also have the ``flexibility and initiative of a private enterprise.''
TVA was born, TVA has prospered, and TVA has done remarkable things for our area. We are economically prosperous because of the presence of TVA. They've built the dams, they've developed new fertilizers, they've been the lifeblood of partnerships with local and State government over economic development opportunities.
You can't drive through the Tennessee Valley area without looking around and seeing a much different and much more prosperous area than we ever would have been if TVA had not been the entity that it had been.
Now the TVA of today is not the TVA of the thirties, forties and fifties. We have a different board construct today. TVA is very concerned about the environment. It's looking at its plants, making sure that they are cleaner, more efficient than they ever were before.
Reflect back, also. After the war, TVA built a 650-mile navigation channel along the Tennessee River, allowing it to become one of the longest transport systems in the country. When we make our pitches for economic development opportunities, it is that navigational channel that is our strength as we acquaint those prospective new industries with what we have to offer.
In the 1990s, TVA began several energy efficiency and conservation programs. These initiatives allowed TVA to cut their annual operating costs by more than $800 million while still meeting the electricity needs of the growing population of the Tennessee Valley.
In 1998, TVA started a new $5.8 billion clean air program that has reduced their emissions by 70 to 80 percent. Additionally, TVA recently began its Green Power Switch Program, designed to increase the availability of energy derived from renewable resources such as solar and wind for customers in the Tennessee Valley.
TVA is also leading the way to clean and safe nuclear power. In my district, TVA is making great strides to increase our Nation's use of nuclear energy. That is a reality we must confront.
So I believe the TVA today, under the leadership of Chairman Bill Sansom and CEO Tom Kilgore, is ready and able to meet the growing environmental and power demands while continuing to be a valuable economic partner to the men and women of the Tennessee Valley.
Since I am leaving Congress, I want to thank my colleagues for serving with me and making sure that our TVA area is the area that we know it to be today, an efficient government entity, and that is not something you can say very often.