Energy and Water Development and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 2016

Floor Speech

Date: April 29, 2015
Location: Washington, DC


Ms. CASTOR of Florida. Mr. Chairman, my amendment increases the Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy account by $266 million, to simply restore it to last year's levels, with an offset from the fossil energy account.

My amendment will boost energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives across America that have a proven return on investment for taxpayers.

This amendment is paid for by reducing--but not by eliminating--accounts that do not have the same return on investment for taxpayers.

Unless we adopt this amendment, America's commitment to energy efficiency and renewable energy will be slashed by $266 million below the 2015 enacted level and over $1 billion below the budget request.

Now, Mr. Chairman, I wish that we could meet the budget request this year, but that doesn't appear possible, but we should at least restore the money back to last year's levels, which is still a very modest investment in energy efficiency and renewable energy for America.

Investments in energy efficiency create jobs and help make our businesses more competitive compared to businesses all across the globe. In addition, energy efficiency reduces costs for consumers. Wouldn't that be revolutionary, that we put money back into the pockets of our neighbors back home?

The amount proposed for energy efficiency and renewable energy in the Republican bill is so low that America will have to reduce the number of research, development, and demonstration projects with industry, with our universities, and in our national labs. America should be a leader in innovation and technological advancement, but instead, the Republican bill says America should take a back seat.

Well, Mr. Chairman, America should take a back seat to no one. We are in the midst of a technological revolution when it comes to energy. Look at what is happening across our great country. We have an incredibly diverse energy portfolio and a growing clean energy and efficiency sector. This is especially important as we tackle the challenges of the changing climate.

Yet the Republican bill reduces investment in solar energy technology R&D within the Solar Energy Technologies Office by $81 million, or 35 percent, from last year. That means the Department of Energy's exciting SunShot Initiative goal of enabling cost-competitive solar electricity without subsidies by 2020 will be delayed for years.

That is extremely detrimental to the U.S. solar industry and the jobs it creates that currently employ over 174,000 Americans. It will send an unfortunate signal to the Chinese and foreign competitors that we are ceding this clean energy industry to them.

The Republican bill also would result in a significant reduction in core solar R&D and the national labs, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Sandia National Laboratories, necessitating reductions in force.

The Republican bill will also eliminate support for solar industry job training for students and military veterans at more than 400 community colleges across 49 States. This network has been a critical source of trained employees in an industry that is growing and is expected to grow even more with over 200,000 jobs by the end of 2015.

Finally, the recently piloted Solar Ready Vets program would be at risk, and the planned expansion from 3 to 10 military bases would be affected and canceled. Veterans currently make up 10 percent of the solar industry.

If we do not unleash American ingenuity now, our neighbors back home will face increased costs of the changing climate, such as increases in property insurance, increases in flood insurance, all of this from extreme weather events, increased property taxes from having to protect drinking water supplies, and storm water infrastructure. I would say instead, let's invest in America.

My amendment shifts a little bit, not all, from older technologies into cutting-edge energy efficiency and clean energy that are so vital to America's future.

I appreciate Ranking Member Kaptur's vision. She understands that this is our future. We are talking about American jobs in American manufacturing. I appreciate her work. And I appreciate Chairman Simpson's work on the appropriations bill.

I ask for an ``aye'' vote on the Castor amendment, and I reserve the balance of my time.


Ms. CASTOR of Florida. Mr. Chairman, I would say that the burgeoning jobs being created in American manufacturing and energy efficiency and renewable energy are more than just cute. They are the jobs of the future in America, a clean energy future.

I urge my colleagues to adopt the Castor amendment: vote for America, vote for American jobs, and vote for the future.