Roll Call recently published excerpts from Secretary of Energy Steven Chu’s testimony before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee in which he rightly asserted the need for sustained federal investments in clean energy research and development.
[IMGCAP(1)]Secretary Chu said, “To achieve our energy and climate goals, we need a strong and sustained commitment to research and development.”
I could not agree more.
But we won’t realize a clean energy future through a complicated system of taxes, trades, rebates and exemptions for special interests to raise the needed funds. And we can’t eliminate the use of fossil resources that supply close to 50 percent of the electricity that powers our industrial job base. Crippling the use of our own resources is short-sighted and destined to put our nation at an extended global competitive disadvantage.
We need a solutions-oriented plan that uses the development of our own natural resources to fund the needed investments as we transition to a clean energy future. Such a plan exists.
Last spring, I worked closely with then-Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-Hawaii) and Rep. Jim Costa (D-Calif.) in forming a bipartisan Energy Working Group to develop solutions to our nation’s energy challenges. The resulting legislation, American Conservation and Clean Energy Independence Act (H.R. 2227), meets the energy and environmental challenge Secretary Chu speaks of and Congress is currently debating.
Our bill pays for itself by using the estimated $3.7 trillion in standard federal revenue from offshore exploration of oil and natural gas to fund the transition to clean energy by directing the trillions in revenues to replace old power plants with clean coal technology; expand nuclear power; repair our aging energy infrastructure; and fund environmental restoration and clean water projects. And that’s just the beginning.
Based on estimates from 1970, the oil and gas off our coasts would have at least $8 trillion in economic impact on our national economy, and the royalties and leasing can generate up to $3.7 trillion in federal dollars into the Treasury. Imagine the possibilities if the government invested these trillions into clean energy technology. We would not have to raise taxes, eliminate jobs, borrow from China or raise the deficit for America to see a new generation of low-emission power plants; new nuclear facilities; biofuel, advanced battery and natural gas cars; wind, geothermal and solar power generation; conservation and efficiency projects; and cleaner water and air. With this historic level of funding, one that does not come at the expense of the taxpayer or from another government program, the possibilities are limitless and within our reach.
Simply put, our bill cleans up our air, land and water; dramatically improves energy efficiency and conservation; and fuels our economy in unprecedented ways — all without crippling our employment and manufacturing base. In fact, more than 1 million jobs will be created annually as a result of this legislation in the fields of energy, environmental science, engineering, manufacturing, building trades and construction. These jobs would expand far into the future, and the reduction in energy costs through increased availability of American energy will lead to hiring in many other business sectors as well.
It is clear that we must confront our extended unemployment, massive budget deficit, debt to foreign nations and huge flow of dollars to Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries nations if we are to move our economy out of the doldrums. The linchpin of these issues lies in the path we take toward defining our nation’s clean energy future and how we get there.
As noted by Secretary Chu, federal investments are needed for “our country’s future economic prosperity, energy security, and environmental sustainability.” As Congress looks to meet these goals, the bipartisan American Conservation and Clean Energy Independence Act offers the solution without raising taxes or increasing our debt.
Rep. Tim Murphy (R-Pa.), a member of the Energy and Commerce Committee, serves as co-chairman of the Congressional Natural Gas Caucus and vice chairman of the Congressional Steel Caucus.