Full Committee Markup -- H.R. 1933
Opening Statement By Chairman Bart Gordon
With concerns about global climate change, high gas and electricity prices, and our growing reliance on unstable energy-supplying nations, energy has come to the forefront of our constituents’ awareness and has been placed at the top of the Congressional “To-Do” list.
Here on the Science and Technology Committee we have responded with an aggressive energy agenda.
With the addition of the four bills we are marking up today, this Committee will contribute an even dozen pieces of legislation that make a vital contribution to the national strategy to put the U.S., and the world, on track to a more sustainable future.
First we will consider H.R. 906. Mr. Udall and Mr. Inglis, the Ranking Member of the Energy and Environment Subcommittee and co-sponsor of the bill, have worked together to produce this legislation.
H.R. 906 re-orients the U.S. Global Change Research Program to produce more policy-relevant climate information for regional, State, and local governments and other user groups.
We will then take up H.R. 1933 by Rep. Udall, which sets out the next steps in DOE’s carbon mitigation strategies. In addition to ongoing research in carbon management, the bill authorizes DOE to conduct demonstrations of large-scale carbon capture and storage technologies through partnerships with industrial, academic and government entities.
Because we will continue to use our abundant resources of coal to meet our energy needs for the foreseeable future, it is critical that we demonstrate an integrated system of capture, transportation, and storage of carbon dioxide at a scale that encourages industry to start making technology choices.
Next, the Committee will take up a bill by the Chairman of the Energy & Environment Subcommittee, Rep. Nick Lampson. H.R. 2773, the Biofuels Research and Development Enhancement Act, will better coordinate and compile information from federal biofuels research programs and focus biofuels research on infrastructure needs and efficiency of biorefinery technologies.
H.R. 2773 also provides for the in-depth study of several challenges facing broader use of biofuels and increases the funding levels for biofuels research.
Finally, we will consider H.R. 2774, the Solar Energy Research and Advancement Act of 2007, introduced by Congresswoman Giffords. This bill creates an R&D program on energy storage technology for concentrating solar power plants, which allows for the use of solar energy even when the sun isn’t shining.
It also asks DOE to conduct studies on how to best integrate concentrating solar plants with the grid, and ways to reduce water usage in these plants. In addition, it creates a workforce training program for solar installation and maintenance, which is critical to making solar power a real energy option across the country.
For each of these bills the Energy and Environment Subcommittee held legislative hearings and markups where we heard valuable witness testimony and facilitated good Member discussions on the barriers and possible pathways for these programs.
And, as you all may know, we are not alone in this effort today. The Energy and Commerce Committee is also marking up a series of energy bills and I, along with Ranking Member Hall and a few others, may have to excuse myself for votes in that Committee.
In conclusion, I urge my colleagues to support these four bills. I know the Committee’s pace has been very aggressive and that has been difficult at times for all of us. However, I believe the products that have resulted from this process demonstrate the value of this Committee and its work and it reflects well on the entire membership.
I want to thank all the Members for their cooperation and participation.
Opening Statement By Rep. Mark Udall
Thank you, Chairman Gordon, for bringing this bill up for markup today.
Coal has been an important energy source in our country since the Industrial Revolution. Today, coal generates more than 50 percent of our electric power. As the country with the largest coal reserves in the world, the US will continue to use this plentiful energy source for years to come.
Unfortunately, coal burning power plants are also a major source of greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. As we confront concerns over climate change, one of the greatest challenges we face is how to lower our carbon dioxide emissions while maintaining our strong economy and the American way of life.
Carbon capture and storage technology will be critical to addressing that challenge, but we need to work together to fully advance these CCS technologies. That’s why I introduced H.R. 1933, The Department of Energy Carbon Capture and Storage Research, Development, and Demonstration Act of 2007.
This legislation will expand and improve the Department of Energy’s carbon capture and storage research and demonstration program. It will authorize two separate demonstration programs, with up to 5 demonstrations for carbon capture and up to 7 demonstrations for large-scale carbon dioxide injection and storage.
The storage demonstrations will require a range of geologic settings to ensure that we are exploring a variety of options and will include research and development of monitoring and verification systems to determine whether CO2 is leaking back into the atmosphere or our drinking water supply.
The bill recognizes that demonstrating an integrated CCS system is critical to developing a commercial application system to sequester large amounts of carbon dioxide – but the bill also recognizes that the R&D efforts on each can and should proceed independently until the technology is ready to be integrated.
The language in this bill is based in large part upon the recommendations included in an interdisciplinary study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, The Future of Coal, which was released earlier this year. In working to improve the bill, my staff worked with many stakeholders, including representatives from the coal industry and the environmental community.
We must begin to address the climate change challenge, but we must not cause irreparable harm to our economy and our coal industry in the process. Creating safe, sound and economical capture and storage strategies is the key – and HR 1933 will help us get there.
I ask my colleagues to support this important legislation.
Now, I would like to yield to Chairman Gordon.