WASHINGTON, DC – Energy and Commerce Committee Republican Leader Greg Walden (R-OR) delivered the following opening remarks today at a Subcommittee on Energy markup of 10 energy related bills.
As Prepared for Delivery
This morning, we begin the process of marking up legislation concerning Department of Energy programs for energy efficiency, for energy workforce development, and for energy cybersecurity and emergency response. All of these are important policy areas and deserve Committee attention for the benefit of updating DOE’s authorities to address current and emerging priorities for the nation.
Most of the bills we will consider were developed collaboratively over a relatively long period of time; seven of ten of the bills in fact originated in or trace back to bipartisan work last Congress.
These include the suite of bills from Chairman Rush, Subcommittee Republican Leader Upton, Mr. Walberg, Mr. Latta, Mr. McNerney, Mr. Loebsack, which enhance DOE electric and energy infrastructure cybersecurity work and elevate its leadership to prepare for and respond to energy emergencies.
The bills sponsored by Mr. Kinzinger, Mr. McNerney, and Mr. Welch to increase water systems efficiency and to accelerate implementation of smart building technology offer new ways to fill gaps in DOE programs.
There is also the well-established effort to enhance DOE’s work to support development of a 21st century energy and manufacturing workforce. Mr. Rush has taken the pen on the latest version of this bill, and I am encouraged by the ongoing collaboration among our staff in search of an agreement on the policy path forward. I look forward to that work continuing fruitfully.
The common thread here is the bipartisan work on developing the policies reflected in the bills, which involves a careful look at what DOE priorities should be, at how to ensure those priorities are balanced against other agency missions.
Over the last several years, in the Committee’s work on DOE modernization, we have focused on returning the agency to its core missions, to making sure the work it does actually achieves our policy goals—whether cleaning up sites; protecting the Secretary’s authority over nuclear weapons work; or streamlining decisions and enhancing capabilities to ensure a robust, safe, secure future energy supply.
Some of this work involves exploring ways to update decades old policies to fit them to modern realities. Or to see if there are more appropriate ways to expend taxpayer dollars. Our legislative efforts last year to upgrade the Strategic Petroleum Reserve reflected this thinking.
Last week, we heard from Secretary of Energy Perry about the amazing prospects of the agency’s supercomputing capabilities, and what that means for future energy security and improved health. Work like this at the Department can challenge our assumptions about what is possible for future energy systems. And I think this fact should also encourage us to challenge our own assumptions about the policies we legislate in this space.
Are there new and different ways to do what we have been doing? Are there better ways, that help to unleash private innovation and private capital without burdening taxpayers? Are there better ways to expend taxpayer funds when the nation has limited federal resources?
Next week, my Majority colleagues plan a full Committee hearing on various infrastructure spending across the Committee’s jurisdiction. A good portion of this involves energy related infrastructure, including energy and efficiency programs like we are considering today.
We want to work together on this legislation. And I hope we can move forward thoughtfully, explore all options, to ensure effective programs, and reduce risk to taxpayers. These are well-meaning efforts to find future energy and efficiency solutions.
But the ingredients for success will require we look closely at the proposals, and at other options that may accomplish the same goals. We should not rush legislation that has not been carefully reviewed. And this principal applies to bills like the block grant bill we are reviewing today, as well as bills next week and in the future.
Let’s work together Mr. Chairman. We have a lot of areas of mutual interest, and we can accomplish a lot if we take advantage of bipartisan solutions.