Ranking Member Kaptur Floor Remarks in Opposition to the 2024 Energy and Water Development Funding Bill
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH-09), Ranking Member of the Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks on the House Floor in opposition to H.R. 4394, the fiscal year 2024 Energy and Water Development Funding bill:
– As Prepared for Delivery –
I yield myself as much time as I may consume.
I would like to begin by thanking our diligent staff for all their hard work on this bill. On the Minority staff I would like to thank Scott McKee, Jocelyn Hunn and Adam Wilson. On the Majority staff I would like to thank Angie Giancarlo, Perry Yates, Nora Kahlil, Richie O’Connell, Scott Prutting, and Janet Harrington. On my personal staff, I would like to thank Margaret McInnis and Mayely Boyce.
As we work on this Energy and Water bill, I would be remiss to not remark how deeply saddened I am from the passing of Senator Dianne Feinstein. As Energy and Water appropriators, Dianne and I worked closely over many years to protect the waters of the United States and a build a brighter, cleaner energy future. Her acute mastery of the energy and water needs of our nation had no comparison. Her dignified noble public service is truly a great loss for our nation.
There is not time to fully express my thoughts currently, but I am so deeply saddened for California’s loss, for our nation’s loss, and for all who grieve the loss of the longest serving woman in Senate history. All I — or any of us — can do is laud Senator Dianne Feinstein’s productive career of exemplary public service. Rest in peace my dear friend.
The U.S. economy is growing at record rates, producing historic levels of job growth due to laws enacted by the last Congress. With this historic job growth, revenues are now coming into the private sector and the Federal government at much higher levels than before because — post pandemic — millions more people are working. Companies are earning money.
Indeed, as this Debt/GDP chart clearly illustrates, our nation has bent the debt curve as a percentage of Gross Domestic Product for the first time in modern history, as we begin to pay down our nation’s accumulated debt, largely amassed from the costs of past wars that were not paid for.
In this context, I am unable to concur with my able colleague Chair Fleischman on this Appropriations bill. I prefer a more realistic Energy and Water allocation that meets the critical energy and water needs of our nation.
Energy and water security are national security, but, the nondefense spending in this bill is $6.4 billion lower — 25 percent lower — than last year’s effective level. That is a radical, irresponsible reduction. It repeals over $5 billion for critical energy programs from the Inflation Reduction Act that would have helped American families save money on their monthly energy bills while simultaneously creating thousands of jobs in new energy technologies.
For Energy and Water needs, it is not overstatement to say people in our nation live or die by decisions being made here in Congress.
Since World War II, America paid a terrible price for its unconscious slide into foreign dependency on imported energy. While we have made strides toward energy independence after half century of effort, we still haven’t scored at the home plate of U.S. energy independence in perpetuity.
And hasn’t our nation learned repeatedly — the hard way — that when gasoline prices top $4 dollars a gallon, our economy is thrown into deep recession? It should be obvious why U.S. energy independence is so vital.
Energy security is national security. We must ensure energy security within our own borders. We cannot depend on foreign sources in the event of energy disruptions that are natural — or malignly concocted to do us harm.
Energy impacts every person’s wellbeing. It allows our nation to be free, and free of foreign malign influence. We know our nation’s fate can be impacted by events outside our borders.
News outlets are correctly reporting that Russia’s unprovoked war on Ukraine is being waged on more than one front, including energy, through the manipulation of global oil and gas prices due to reserves Russia controls. In fact, oil price surged to nearly $100 per barrel in September after Saudi Arabia and Russia continued their curtailment of oil supplies. The sharp escalation in geopolitical risk in the Middel East from the brutal Hamas terror attacks in Israel has oil markets on edge. Let us not forget that the Middle East accounts for more than one-third of the world’s seaborne oil trade. Again, energy resources are intricately bound to the fate of Liberty halfway around our world.
Energy also allows our private sector’s ability to flourish in a modern economy with millions upon millions of living wage jobs in energy production and conservation — across all sectors — natural gas, ethanol and biodiesel, nuclear, fossil fuels, thermal heat recovery, renewables, and advancing sectors of hydrogen and fusion energy.
Meanwhile imaginative energy conservation and other developing technologies are being created by America’s amazing inventors in new building materials, solar and electrified windows, biofuels, geothermal and thermal heat recovery, and wind and wave energy, to name a few.
Now, on water responsibilities, new, major engineering challenges lie before America. Ask the citizens along the drought-stricken Mississippi Louisianan corridor as saltwater creeps north, or the flood victims in New York City.
Across our nation, cities are having to manage water and wastewater loads for which they were not engineered. Farmers are losing crops because of increasing rainfall, an inability to manage water in the fields, and drainage systems that were built for another era.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and Bureau of Reclamation are needed now more than ever to handle regional approaches to new and changing water flows, whether it’s down the Mississippi, in the Great Lakes, or the dry, irrigated West.
There is an old expression: “Don’t try to fool Mother Nature.” I would say, “Don’t ignore Mother Nature.” This is one such moment in American history. And so I must express the Energy and Water Appropriation bill before us is completely inadequate. It does not meet our country’s needs in this new era of climate change.
We are paying billions more in disaster relief. This country paid over $150 billion in disaster damage last year, significantly higher than the $60 billion average from the last 30 years. We ought to be investing that money upfront to avoid those disasters by properly funding this bill. We must robustly meet the needs of the future, not flounder in the past.
In other areas of this bill, I continue to be troubled by the unsustainable spending in DOE’s weapons program. Further, I’m concerned how this bill cuts nuclear nonproliferation programs that reduce nuclear risks and counter the global challenge of nuclear proliferation.
Finally, the bill includes numerous controversial poison pill policy riders that sadly show extremist Republicans are not interested in bills that can gain bipartisan support and become law.
I urge my colleagues to oppose this bill. America can and must do better on the New Age Frontiers of Energy and Water.
I reserve the balance of my time.