H.R. 5866, H.R. 6160
Monday, September 27, 2010 - 10:00am
2318 Rayburn HOB
Opening Statement By Chairman Bart Gordon
Good morning. I would like to welcome the members to today’s markup. We will consider two important pieces of legislation that will help America recapture a technological lead in a wide range of industries critical to our economy, our national defense, and a clean and secure energy future.
First, we will consider H.R. 5866 sponsored by myself and co-sponsored by Subcommittee Chairman Baird, Ranking Member Hall and Subcommittee Ranking Member Inglis.
This bill amends the Energy Policy Act of 2005 to modernize and improve our Federal nuclear energy R&D programs. Our nation’s 104 commercial reactors today produce 20 percent of our electricity and 70 percent of our emissions free energy. If we are to increase our energy independence and mitigate the effects of climate change, nuclear must continue to be a large part of our nation’s energy mix.
However, despite a strong record of safety and operating efficiency, capital costs continue to rise for construction of new plants, and the question of how to manage the waste byproducts of nuclear fission remains.
H.R. 5866 provides the programmatic architecture needed at DOE to answer and solve these outstanding issues.
This bill is the result of a truly bipartisan effort over the past six months and I would like to thank Mr. Hall, Mr. Inglis, and Mr. Baird, as well as the Committee Staff of both the Majority and Minority, for their continued good work as we move this legislation through the Committee and to the floor.
The second bill on the roster is H.R. 6160 introduced by the gentlewoman from Pennsylvania, Mrs. Dahlkemper, and cosponsored by Mr. Carnahan, Mr. Jerry Lewis, Mr. Coffman, and myself.
As the I&O Subcommittee hearing in March highlighted, and as Mrs. Dahlkemper understands well, rare earths are an essential component of technologies in a wide array of emerging and established industries. For everything from oil refining to hybrid cars, wind turbines to weapons systems, the demand for rare earths is only expected to grow.
However, despite the U.S. at one time being the global leader in this field, we are now 95% dependent on China for rare earths. Making matters more urgent, China has begun limiting production and export of rare earths and requiring that products using rare earths be manufactured in China, and largely for Chinese consumption.
This is clearly an untenable position for the U.S. I believe it would be foolish to stake our national defense and economic security on China’s goodwill or a hope that it will choose to compete in a fair and open global marketplace for rare earths.
This is not the first time the Committee has been concerned with the competitive implications of materials such as rare earths. In 1980—30 years ago—this Committee established a national minerals and materials policy. One core element in that legislation was the call to support for "a vigorous, comprehensive and coordinated program of materials research and development."
Unfortunately, over successive administrations, the effort to sustain that program fell apart. Now, it is time to revive a coordinated effort to level the global playing field in rare earths. Mrs. Dahlkemper’s bill calls for increased research and development to help address the Nation’s rare earth shortage, and reinvigorates the national policy for critical materials.
With that, I thank you all for your attendance and participation this morning, and I look forward to a productive markup.