Statement by Congresswoman Kaptur on the Energy and Water Bill: Liberty's Business

WASHINGTON, DC (June 18, 2014) - The Honorable Marcy Kaptur, Ranking Member, Energy and Water Development Subcommittee, House Committee on Appropriations
 
Fiscal Year 2015, Full Committee Markup

Mr. Chairman, I want to congratulate you on the bipartisan and transparent manner in which you crafted the Fiscal Year 2015 Energy and Water bill. I also want to express my gratitude to Chairman Rogers, Ranking Member Lowey, and the other members of the Subcommittee for their efforts. Finally, I would like to thank the majority Subcommittee staff and your personal staff for their great work, as well as Taunja Berquam, on our side, for her exceptional diligence and expertise and Ryan Steyer.  
 
Before I get to my remarks on the bill itself, I first want to mention that our thoughts and prayers are with Mr. Nunnelee as he recuperates, we hope to see him join us again soon.
 
To Mr. Pastor, this will be your last Energy and Water meeting. You have been a leader on our Subcommittee for many years and we will miss you, your vision and sense of humor. I wish you all the best as you embark on this new phase in your life.
 
As we evaluate the bill before us – one of the most important bills we could possibly debate – I would like to briefly provide some context.  When I deliver graduation addresses, I generally tell my audience I am in the “LIBERTY BUSINESS.”
 
Our Energy and Water bill today is about liberty’s business.  It is about national security.  It is about energy security.  It is about jobs and economic growth here at home.  Our accounts spur energy innovation; they feed construction of an America on the grow and the jobs that attend that; and they assure the nuclear security that can defend our nation.  All these accounts are tightly bound in our subcommittee bill.
 
From Michael Klare’s remarkable book “Blood and Oil,” we learn about what some might call the most significant test to liberty in own era:
 
He says: “Every economic recession since World War II has come on the heels of a global petroleum shortage.”  To name a few, look back to the Arab oil embargo and OPEC price increases of 1973-74,  the 1990 Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, to the costly wars we have been enduring in Iraq and Afghanistan.”  The current crisis in Iraq, as well as the predicament Ukraine and greater Europe face as winter approaches, all point fiercely in the direction of energy.  As gasoline prices here at home now bob and rise toward $4/gallon, we recall that $4 price level is the tripwire for our economy slipping into recession again.
 
If we look back at history, since creation of the Centcom in 1983, almost all the American soldiers who have died in combat were serving under its authority, including the victims of terrorist attacks at the Khobar Towers in Saudi Arabia in 1996 and aboard the USS Cole in 2000.  The link between blood, the politics of energy, and terrorism plagues our political reality. Ultimately on 9-11 as Yemen terrorists slammed into our shores, the Statue of Liberty witnessed the dawn of the 21st century.
 
The U.S. military itself is largely dependent on petroleum.  As Robert E. Ebel of the Center for Strategic and International Studies said in 2002: “Oil fuels military power, national treasuries, and international politics.”  And, petroleum products account for over 90% of all fuel used by America’s mammoth fleets of cars, trucks, buses, planes, trains, and ships.”
 
In the last century, American reliance on foreign oil grew.  Our share of imports in the nation’s total annual energy supply rose from 42% in 1990 to 49% in 1997.  In April 1998, it crossed the 50% mark.  The U.S. entered the 21st century with a net reliance on foreign oil.”  Based on charts you have in hand, you can observe where the imports are coming from and where reserves remain. In addition, one can gain a sense, despite U.S. natural gas discoveries, how reliant the U.S. remains on imported product.  In my sincere judgment, this posture of energy dependence, and our overreliance on one input, is simply too great a risk to liberty for our nation.  We must propel a course adjustment and this bill does its part toward that task.
 
Just since 2003, the U.S. has spent $2.3 trillion importing foreign petroleum.  This is a vast shift of wealth, and thousands upon tens of thousands of jobs, from the U.S. elsewhere.  Assuming a $30/barrel price, the total bill for imported oil over the next 25 years should reach over $3.5 trillion, or more depending on the barrel price – at $100 per barrel it would be a shift of wealth over $10 trillion.  It is useful to peruse the charts we have provided to reflect on the predicament America faces.  How serious are we in restoring liberty to future generations?  Each of us must ask ourselves this question.  Just this week, the fear of an oil price shock related to Iraq unrest has put Wall Street on an oil price watch.  America’s markets report West Texas Intermediate crude, the benchmark U.S. index, bears watching.  Last week, when fighting intensified and fears of a civil war in Iraq became all too real, a barrel of WTI crude spiked 4.1% to $106.91 on a closing basis, but climbed as high as $107.68 in intraday trading Friday.  On Monday, prices stabilized, with a barrel of oil falling 20 cents in price to $106.57. Theoretically, this per barrel price – if it were to remain over the next 25 years – would suck over $10 trillion dollars more of wealth out of the U.S. economy. The job loss associated with trillions of dollars of abdicated energy wealth is staggering. It is a major contributing factor to the shrinkage of our middle class because it is a continuing hemorrhage of wealth, jobs, and economic power.
 
The bill before us today attempts to take a modest step forward in diversifying America’s energy sources.  Frankly, based on the challenge that has faced us for almost a third of a century, I would like to triple the size of this budget to get to a solution for liberty and security faster.  Congress must restore greater energy security for our nation through innovation.  That firm commitment will leave the next generation in greater control of this country.  Recent natural gas discoveries, and added domestic oil drilling, provide our nation with some breathing room.  But only for awhile.  An energy hungry world will continue to push up global prices and availability. The world is changing and so America must adapt, and adapt sooner rather than later.  President Jimmy Carter was not wrong when he equated the struggle for energy independence as the moral equivalent of war.  We have been engaged in plenty of fighting abroad.  We must refocus and draw forth the powers of our own land performing something worthy to be remembered.
 
The $34 billion in this bill cannot correct the ship of state’s direction overnight.  But surely, as we change course and invest more robustly in our own nation’s energy future again, across all energy sectors.  Thus, we can begin to restore some of the economic luster we know has been lost and is but waiting for us to reignite its potential.
 
By 2035, some projections show that we will be able to meet 97 percent of our energy needs through domestic production.
 
Efficiency upgrades to our vehicles, buildings, and industrial processes have slowed the growth of consumption.  This must continue.
 
On the supply side, increases in domestic production are largely driven by natural gas discoveries, using drilling technology that was advanced due to this committee’s investment in research and development at the Department of Energy.
 
Continued funding to accelerate renewable energy development can help achieve a net positive balance of trade in our energy sector.
 
Alternatively, if we under-invest in the critical technologies of the future, we risk wasting our moment in history and ceding our energy future to our global competitors, such as China and Russia.
 
With this in mind, let us examine the bill before us.
 
As the Chairman has already pointed out, the allocation for Energy and Water is essentially flat when compared to 2014.  I know, Mr. Chairman, you were faced with very difficult decisions, in particular, with the Defense allocation.  Despite these challenges, the product before us is a good bill, and one which I support.  There are, of course, a few provisions which I object to that I hope we can rectify as we move forward.
 
I am convinced that if we do not make strategic investments in our physical and research infrastructure we are risking the economic competiveness of our nation.  I believe the bill before us grapples with these important national decisions that will shape this century’s America.
 
The bill adds nearly a billion to the Corps of Engineers, funding which is necessary to complete work already underway - - but there are no new starts, and the Army Corps of Engineers has a $60 billion backlog.  What a job creator that would be if we could fund it!  If we are to maintain our ports and waterways and provide flood and storm damage reduction projects where they make sense, we must modernize our critical infrastructure.
 
 
In almost every circumstance, it makes more fiscal sense to prevent a disaster than to respond to one, so this bill allows the Corps to address national needs not supported by the Administration’s request.  These investments will give businesses and individual’s confidence in their community’s infrastructure, thereby driving further investment.
 
The Science and ARPA-E accounts, critical for U.S. competitiveness and scientific innovation, are equal to 2014 funding.
 
I do have concerns with amounts provided to certain accounts within the bill.  In particular the level of funding for the nonproliferation activities of the NNSA and the Defense Environmental Cleanup account where, despite the Chairman’s best efforts on these fronts, the Subcommittee’s allocation was simply insufficient to address the many competing needs.
 
While the funding levels of the bill are fair, the inclusion of controversial riders is an unnecessary diversion from our primary responsibility – ensuring that taxpayer funds are invested wisely in Federal programs which will contribute to the economic vitality of our Nation.
 
Most concerning is the inclusion of 2 water riders which, taken together, risk environmental gains and protection of the world’s most precious resource: water.
 
The first Clean Water Act prohibition prevents the Corps of Engineers from taking steps to clarify which waters are protected by the Clean Water Act, and lock in place a widely-acknowledged state of confusion about the scope of the law’s pollution control programs.
 
The second, prevents the Corps of Engineers from using funds to “develop, adopt, implement, administer, or enforce any change” to regulations pertaining to the definitions of the terms “fill material” or “discharge of fill material” under the Clean Water Act. This rider would lock in industry loopholes, leaving many of our nation’s waterways vulnerable to harmful pollution.
 
The provision relating to California water which diverts some $70 million from environmental protection activities to actions to increase water supply seems, at a minimum, to be a matter of Federal overreach.  The provision would divert funds from a settlement agreement which ended 18 year of litigation, a settlement agreement which was supported by all involved parties.  Further a recent poll done by bipartisan polling firms found that the majority of Californians do not support suspending environmental protections in response to water shortages.  The water shortages in California are real and potentially crippling to many in the state.  While I support actions to address water supply shortages, I cannot support them at the expense of the environment. Drought is the cause of low water allocations, not environmental protections.
 
In spite of these concerns, Mr. Chairman, I would like to reiterate my appreciation for your work with us on many issues, you have ensured the Energy and Water Development Subcommittee continues its tradition of bipartisanship—the Subcommittee has operated collaboratively and effectively for many years and, within the constraints you were faced with, you largely addressed the interests we have expressed.  I look forward to working with you and the members of the Committee to advance the process and complete the task before us to strengthen liberty as she encounters the challenge of a new era.
 
Thank you again, Mr. Chairman for the time.

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