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Opening Statement of Ranking Member Frank Lucas at Full Committee Markup of H.R. 3597, H.R. 3607, H.R. 3609 and H.R. 335

Jul 24, 2019
Opening Statement

Thank you, Chairwoman Johnson, for holding this mark-up.

Today we will consider four pieces of legislation – three of which are bills that this Committee was unable to reach a bipartisan agreement on. I disappointed that we haven’t made more progress in reaching a bipartisan consensus, especially since this committee has one of the best track records in Congress for passing productive, bipartisan legislation.

Now, I want to be clear, these three bills are well-intentioned, and I believe there is still a chance for bipartisanship in the future.  But the fact is, our job in Congress is to set priorities and focus our limited federal funds where we can see the best return on investment.  

Unfortunately, the bills we will consider today don’t meet that standard.  Instead, they offer aspirational funding levels that we simply cannot afford.

The first bill we will consider today is H.R. 3597, the “Solar Energy Research and Development Act of 2019.”  

This legislation authorizes solar energy research conducted by the Department of Energy (DOE)’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). EERE received almost $2.4 billion dollars in funding in 2019 and is DOE’s largest applied research program. 

This legislation would authorize approximately one and a half-billion dollars for this work, reaching a 33% total increase in funding from enacted levels by 2024. 

And while this legislation includes authorizations for some critical research priorities that I support like innovative energy storage, next-generation solar technologies, and advanced computing capabilities, it focuses heavily on expanding the deployment of technology that already exists.

Our second bill this morning is H.R. 3607, the “Fossil Energy Research and Development Act of 2019.”

This bill reauthorizes DOE’s Fossil Energy Research and Development programs and brings total spending in this area to over $1 billion by FY 2024, a 36% increase from enacted levels.  The bill is also singularly focused on emissions control technologies. While those technologies are certainly part of a balanced fossil energy portfolio, there’s a lot more work to be done to maximize our nation’s fossil fuel resources.

Next we will consider H.R. 3609, the “Wind Energy Research and Development Act of 2019” which authorizes wind energy research conducted under EERE and would provide over $570 million for this work. This amounts to a 37% increase from enacted levels by 2024. 

And while I support some elements of this legislation, like basic research in materials science and hybrid energy systems, its primary focus is again on reducing so-called “market barriers” for existing wind technologies.

I’m thrilled at the growth we’ve seen in the wind and solar industries in the past decade.  But American industry is already leading the way on deploying these technologies – and we won’t discover the next game-changing technology by duplicating their efforts.   

Finally, the Committee will consider H.R. 335, the “South Florida Clean Coastal Waters Act of 2019.”

The legislation requires the Interagency Task Force on Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) and Hypoxia to produce an integrated assessment on the causes, consequences, and potential mitigation options to reduce HABs and hypoxia in South Florida.  The legislation also calls for the Task Force to identify the current status and gaps in research, monitoring, and management efforts, develop an action plan for reducing, mitigating, and controlling HABs and hypoxia in this same region.

I’m supportive of this legislation and I want to thank the Chairwoman for including it in today’s mark-up.

Before I close, I want to be clear – I’m supportive of DOE funding for innovative research that will lead to new solar, wind, and fossil energy technologies.  But as stewards of taxpayer resources, we must focus funding on projects that are truly cutting-edge – those that can’t be undertaken by private industry, like basic research in advanced computing, advanced manufacturing, and the development of new materials. 

With our national debt at $22 trillion and rising, we simply can’t afford to increase spending for every program – and we will have to make choices about where we invest.

I’d like to take this opportunity to extend an invitation to my good friends across the aisle. There is so much we agree on. So I hope that in the future we can take the commonsense approach, and work together to invest in the basic research we all support.  I yield back the balance of my time.

116th Congress