Ranking Member, Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works
Full Committee Business Meeting
May 20, 2010, 9:30 a.m.
Thank you, Madame Chair. Given that we are all anxious to attend the Joint Session with Mexican President Felipe Calderon, my remarks will be brief.
Today's agenda contains a mix of bills, several of which I will be supporting. However, I have reservations about S. 3362, the Sustainable Schools Pollution Reduction Act of 2010, and S. 3373, a bill to designate air quality empowerment zones in the San Joaquin Valley of California. Finally, I have filed two amendments to S. 3374, the Cleanfields Investment Act.
Along with the authors of S. 3362, I support energy efficiency in our schools and agree it is and can be a great method for lowering energy costs and reducing emissions. However, I cannot understand how establishing yet another unfunded grant program will achieve our mutual goal of increasing energy efficiency. I realize that it is a popular notion that spending money is the answer to all of our challenges, but given that yesterday our national debt crossed over $13 trillion, I would hope we would start to realize that there are other ways to achieve the worthwhile goals this bill seeks. The best way to provide schools with efficient energy choices is to support an all-of-the-above energy policy that will not only provide for our energy needs but provide our nation with energy security. When given options, I believe that schools will make rational choices.
Regarding S. 3373, I have the same concerns as I did last Congress when we marked up this bill. I share the Chair's desire to help areas in our states to meet their attainment goals. My own state is facing attainment challenges. Unfortunately, like in last Congress, S. 3373 is limited to only one area, despite the fact that there are other areas of the country that would benefit from the same help.
Finally, I have a couple of amendments that I believe will improve S. 3374, the Cleanfields Investment Act, by broadening the definition of what types of Brownfield sites can benefit from this program. Also, since the goals of this bill can be reached within the existing Brownfields program, I don't believe there is a need for an additional $50 million authorization.
Thank you, Madame Chair. I look forward to working with you and other members of the Committee on the bills before us today.