Ninth District Congressman Adam Smith said today that the energy proposal the House of Representatives is scheduled to consider tomorrow, H.R. 4, needs significant improvement in order to forge an energy policy for the 21st century.
"Our country's energy policy is vitally important to our economy, our environment, and our national security," said Smith. "I strongly believe we need to make an aggressive effort to develop and implement the energy technologies of the future that will allow us to wean our dependency on fossil fuels. Unfortunately, the proposal in front of us shortchanges these investments and actually encourages a greater dependence on fossil fuels."
Smith has requested the opportunity to offer his own amendment to the legislation, co-sponsored by fellow New Democrat Coalition Members Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Ron Kind (D-WI). The amendment would:
*Improve the efficiency standards for federal buildings;
*Require that, by 2011, non-hydropower renewable energy sources account for 10 percent of the power consumed by the federal government;
*Require that, by 2011, 10 percent of vehicles in the federal fleet be alternative fuel or hybrid vehicles;
*Improve the fuel economy standards for the federal fleet of vehicles.
"My amendment would make the federal government a leader in using technologies to improve energy efficiency and renewable and alternative sources of energy," Smith said. "Right now, the federal government spends $8 billion a year on energy costs and consumes 3 percent of all the energy in the country. This kind of commitment to the energy technologies of tomorrow can make a significant difference."
H.R. 4 would also provide nearly $7 billion in incentives for fossil fuel exploration and extraction on public lands, a provision Smith opposed as a Member of the House Resources Committee. Although it authorizes increased funding for renewable and energy efficiency research and development and tax credits, Smith points out the money is not there for those investments.
"Ironically, this plan finds real dollars for fossil fuel incentives – it takes the money out of the Land and Water Conservation Fund – but it really only gives lip service to research and tax credits for energy technologies of the future," explained Smith. "The United States used to be the world's leader in developing new energy technologies, but a steep decline in the research and development budgets has led to our slipping behind other countries. We have the opportunity to become an exporter of energy, because while we don't have as much oil or gas as other countries, Americans have innovation and creativity, and we can change the way the world gets energy if we make a commitment to the technologies of the future."
Smith will support amendments to actually fund the research and development of renewable and alternative energy sources and energy efficiency technology, as well as the tax incentives to encourage use of these technologies. He will also support common-sense measures to improve our fossil fuel extraction, such as the building of a pipeline from Alaska to the lower 48 states.
"We also need a greater commitment to efficiency standards," noted Smith. "In fact, just today a study by the National Academy of Sciences was released that concludes we can dramatically increase vehicle fuel efficiency and that any increased cost would pay for itself. We have the technology and the know-how to do this, and we should work with auto manufacturers and consumers to develop the best, most energy-efficient cars in the world."
Smith said he is hopeful the energy debate will continue. "There are still many unaddressed issues, including energy industry restructuring, emissions standards, and transmission," he said. "I am fully committed to continuing work on this critically important issue throughout the rest of the year and into the future."