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Rep. Tonko Remarks on Energy & Commerce Amendment

Republicans reject platform supporting needed investments in water infrastructure and drinking water safety

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Washington, January 24, 2017 | comments
"With proper support from Congress, we can ensure that the future global energy system, and the infrastructure that will support it, will be researched, designed, and manufactured here in the United States. And that our energy workforce is representative of our nation." - Rep. Paul Tonko
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WASHINGTONCongressman Paul Tonko, Ranking Member on the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Environment, spoke at today’s committee meeting to propose a common-sense change to the committee’s oversight plan that would have directed the committee to add far more comprehensive attention to the needs and growing threats to the safety of our nation’s drinking water systems.



Full text of Rep. Tonko’s proposed language to be added by amendment:


“The Committee will conduct oversight of the ongoing drinking water crisis in Flint, Michigan, including implementation of new programs created in the Water Infrastructure Improvements for the Nation Act.  Additionally, the Committee will conduct oversight of the growing threat to drinking water posed by climate change and emerging contaminants including perfluorinated compounds.”



Rep. Tonko delivered the following statement in support of the amendment:


Mr. Chairman, I have an amendment at the desk.


This amendment would give clean energy-- and the jobs it sustains-- a proper place in the oversight plan.


First I would like to acknowledge the efforts of our colleague Mr. Rush to develop a well-trained and diverse 21st century energy workforce.


We have seen tremendous changes in the clean energy economy over the past decade, and this Committee should work to understand better the opportunities for job creation in this sector.

We have seen the rapid and widespread adoption of many technologies. This has primarily been due to massive reductions in cost.


As tracked by DOE’s “Revolution Now” report series, the cost of land-based wind power, utility and distributed photovoltaic solar power, LEDs, and electric vehicles have all fallen by at least 41% since 2008.


Many private sector businesses are investing in cost-competitive renewable energy to power their operations and are seeking to improve their energy efficiency.


We are truly in the midst of an energy revolution, and we should recognize that clean energy has directly led to the growth of millions of American jobs already.


Take solar for example. Solar power is expanding rapidly. Installed solar in the U.S. increased from 1.2 gigawatts to 27.4 gigawatts between 2009 and 2015.


In order to make this expansion possible, the solar industry employs more workers in power generation than any other energy industry, according to DOE’s second annual U.S. Energy and Employment Report.


Solar has also proven to be a great industry for employing veterans.


And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the fastest-growing occupation in the country is wind turbine technician.


These claims are not just coming from government sources.


In December 2016, Environmental Entrepreneurs, or E2, released “Energy Efficiency Jobs in America,” which found that energy efficiency employs 1.9 million people nationwide.


E2 also released “Clean Jobs America,” a comprehensive clean energy jobs analysis in March 2016 showing that 2.5 million Americans work in the clean energy sector.


Clearly, there are tremendous economic opportunities for American workers and manufacturers.

Other countries want to invest in and purchase solar panels and wind turbines. We need to put in place policies that encourage those products to be researched, designed, and manufactured here by Americans, and then exported around the world.


These technologies have incredible potential to unlock millions of new jobs in this country. So if you do not care about the environmental benefits—reduced air pollution, cleaner water, and addressing the effects of climate change, then we should at least acknowledge the economic benefits.


The proposed oversight plan explicitly calls for our nation’s policies to promote investment, innovation, and job creation with regards to telecommunications.


I see no reason why we should not do the same for clean energy.


With proper support from Congress, we can ensure that the future global energy system, and the infrastructure that will support it, will be researched, designed, and manufactured here in the United States. And that our energy workforce is representative of our nation.


I know we will have plenty of issues to debate and disagree upon during the 115th Congress. Supporting good paying American jobs in the energy sector should not be one of them. I urge everyone to support this amendment.


Republicans on the Energy & Commerce committee rejected the amendment by voice vote.


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