« PrécédentContinuer »
Btu component for hydrogenerated electricity which is of some interest in the State of Washington.
I am concerned that the efficiency of hydroelectric power was not considered in the development of that formula, and that this will result in the administration's goal of developing a regionally equitable tax not being appropriately achieved.
In fact, the figures from the Washington State energy office show that the tax could cost the Washington State residents as much as $148 per capita, as opposed to the average of $117 per capita for the rest of the country. This disparity could be lessened by a more realistic treatment of hydropower. I look forward to reviewing your thoughts on this particular topic.
Finally, I will be forwarding a question to you about the request for $2 million for the Renewable Energy Production Initiative, which was authorized under the Energy Policy Act of 1992. I would like your thoughts as to whether this is an adequate amount of money to encourage the development of renewable resources of energy by public utilities and others.
Mr. Chairman, I thank you again for holding this hearing, and I look forward to reviewing the information I will receive from Secretary O'Leary.
Mr. SHARP. I thank the gentleman.
The distinguished gentleman from the State of Texas, Mr. Washington, is recognized.
Mr. WASHINGTON. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I would like to join my colleagues in thanking you for holding this very timely hearing, and welcome the Secretary of Energy to our subcommittee. I have looked forward to an opportunity for us to get together to discuss these important matters for a long time, and I am happy that you are here today.
I applaud you on the work that you have done, and we look forward to great things from you at the Department of Energy.
In the brief time allotted, and I must apologize in advance for, at 10 a.m., another of the subcommittees on which I am privileged to serve of the Committee on Energy and Commerce will be meeting, and I will be required to kind of bandy back and forth, and I will try to get as much time in here. I have read your prepared statement with great enthusiasm, and so I apologize in advance for the necessity for leaving, Madam Secretary.
There are many things that concern all of us. Some have been talked about, the Energy Tax, clean cars, alternative fuels, solar technology, petroleum reserves, import of foreign oil and, down in Texas, we think anything other than West Texas Crude is foreign oil, nuclear technology, LPG, nuclear weapons settings and the like.
I am satisfied that with the array of very bright individuals from all over the country that we will have an opportunity to delve deeply into most, if not all, of these areas in the limited time allotted. During a hearing like this, I have attempted to read through with the staff the entire budget request that you have made.
I do have some specific questions, so if I could use this time to lay out some thoughts so that when I come back and do have some time for some questions, I will be able to stay within the 5-minute rule. I am interested in two specific things, at least when we come to the first round of questions, of course, I don't expect you to answer them now. I am going to try to lay them out using this 5 minutes so that we can have more time to probe during the time actually allotted for questions.
As I understand our posture in this country, we are looking to the day when we can reduce, if not eliminate, nuclear weapons testing, which raises some concern, and I am sure you can address it and allay my fears when we get to the question, and that is, why, if this is our posture, do we have a request from your Agency to increase the amount of funds allocated from $416 million to $461 million for the next fiscal year?
The second question which I would like to put to you at the time, Madam Secretary, when we do have time for questions, concerns the superconducting Super Collider, which, as you know, is ongoing down in Texas, and you know, of course, that I am from Texas, but I am frankly opposed to continuation of the superconducting Super Collider. Not in concept because in my previous, previous life, I was a scientist by trade. I took a degree in biology, and I certainly understand the final nuances. I still remember the final nuances of being able to probe deeply, and for scientists to be able to have the funds from the Federal Government to do those kinds of things that they purport to doto smash atoms and all of that down at the superconducting Super Collider.
My history, though, teaches me that in attempting to represent the people who sent me to Congress, there are things that we need that are more appropriate, I think, for the stewards of our government, that is the legislative branch, that ought to take a high priority. The same people who have been asked not to educate their children because funds are not available, not to redevelop the infrastructure in your cities, not to do the myriad of things that we all know exist, and I won't go through the litany of those things, but many things in this country have been put on hold for the last 20 to 25 years, and mine is not a partisan comment because it con- ' cerns both Democrats and Republicans—I will be finished in just a second, let me put the question, Mr. Chairman, I see my light is on-how can I go back then to my district and tell my people that the superconducting Super Collider which is in the President's budget is more important than educating the children in our schools?
It seems to me that our priorities are mixed up, and the question I would like to ask is, what will happen to the superconducting Super Collider if we don't develop it, will some other country develop it, or will they likely put it on hold like we do so that they can get their budget straight, and perhaps wait 5 to 10 years until our economy is growing, and their economy is growing, and we can go back to where we were to that hole in the ground out by Nacodoches, Texas, and continue to develop it in a time that is more appropriate? Can we wait 5 years until we clean up our act to develop the superconducting Super Collider?
Thank you very much, and thank you for your thoughts.
The distinguished ranking minority member of the full committee, Mr. Moorhead, and formerly of this subcommittee where he
was the key leader last year in getting the new Energy Policy Act, Mr. Moorhead from California.
Mr. MOORHEAD. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I want to commend you for holding this timely hearing on the Department of Energy Budget. I would also like to thank the Secretary of Energy for coming to testify before us today. I look forward to hearing her remarks on the budget.
This hearing on the DOE Budget is very timely. Americans are concerned about how their money is being spent by the Federal Government, how much spending increases every year, press accounts of government waste are rampant. The American public is demanding that we curb spending and get the budget balanced.
Many of our members that just came back from their districts are hearing only two things, cut Government spending, don't raise taxes. This is a message we are all hearing, and yet the current administration makes only modest attempts at cutting spending and balancing the budget. Instead, this administration proposes increasing taxes in a way that is likely to hurt those who can least afford it.
This has been a subcommittee that has worked together on issue after issue. There has been very little difference of opinion as far as the needs of our Nation on energy issues, but I can tell you there are a lot of us that are totally against this energy tax.
We are opposed to it for very real reasons. In my State, jobs are the number one issue,
jobs, jobs, jobs, because we are losing a lot of them in California. This tax is not jobs friendly. There are many high energy industries like aluminum, for one, that will be driven almost totally offshore. There are others that will have very serious difficulties and have to cut back. So I am very, very concerned about the effect this is going to have on employment in my State.
I have a question for the Secretary which I will ask again during the question period, is the proposed Btu tax fair, is this tax fair to the poorest people in our society who will be paying the same rate of tax as the wealthiest in our society? Even with the tax credits proposed, it is likely that this tax bill will take a far larger percentage of a poor person's total income than a wealthy person's income?
Is this tax fair to the farmers who rely on fuel to run their machines, propane to run the heaters to dry their grain and heat buildings, and diesel fuel to power barges that take their product to market?
Is it fair that in return for paying higher taxes farmers will probably face these increased production costs and decreased prices caused by the inability of their buyers to pass the higher energy costs through to the consumer?
Is this tax fair to the energy intensive businesses such as steel, autos, and airlines, who will be made less competitive in world markets, and they are already having a terrible struggle, as you know?
Although our energy costs are lower than world energy costs, our total manufacturing costs are higher. In many cases, lower energy costs are what allow us to compete in world markets. Raising these costs will make U.S. industry less competitive, and could lead to the loss of industry and jobs. Is this fair?
Is this tax fair to domestic oil refiners who will be placed at a disadvantage to foreign refiners who will not have to pay increased energy costs for taxes on the inventory that American refiners will be forced to pay? Is it fair to penalize domestic refiners in this way? Is it fair to domestic oil producers who will be unable to find markets for oil which is more expensive to produce?
In California, you know, our producers of heavy crude have a struggle in selling their product around the world, and in your budget you propose to spend $80 million to increase the life span of declining oil fields such as those in California, I hope. Yet this energy tax will encourage premature abandonment of those very same fields because producers will be unable to sell this oil which costs more to produce.
Finally, I ask, is this tax fair to the American people, is it fair to raise $2 of taxes while cutting spending only $1, and to do it in the name of deficit reduction?
Is it right to levy yet another tax on the American people without giving them anything in return except more uncontrolled Government spending?
Madam Secretary, I know that you are in a tough spot, you have come into a new job, and I don't mean to be picking on you, but this tax is a very, very serious thing. It is very harmful to the American people, and I hope that before it is enacted into law, before it becomes a part of our law, we will do some second guessing on this thing and think again about it, and pull it off the schedule.
It is very important to all of us, to our Nation, to our jobs, to our economy, that we not destroy it with this very, very harmful, harmful act.
The gentleman from the State of Illinois, Mr. Hastert is recognized for 3 minutes.
Mr. HASTERT. I thank the chairman, and certainly I want to welcome you, Madam Secretary. I think you will find this committee certainly to be probing, but I also want to call your attention to the chairman of this subcommittee who really provided leadership on drafting and putting together the Energy Bill last year, and I think you will find that this committee is committed to finding bipartisan answers to big problems, and we have enjoyed that ability to do that up to this point, and I am sure under your tutelage we will continue to do that.
I have certainly a formal opening statement, but in brevity, and hoping to hear your testimony, I think I will forego that.
I would also ask, at the appropriate time, I have some questions that I would like to submit for answers, but I certainly welcome you here, and I think it is a place that you can feel comfortable in being very candid and straightforward, and having the full cooperation of this committee in trying to help solve problems. So thank you very much.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
STATEMENT OF HON. J. DENNIS HASTERT Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Secretary O'Leary, welcome to the subcommittee today. I look forward to your testimony.
When we think about high energy physics we tend to think of the SSC, but the United States already has the preeminent particle accelerator in the world at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory in Batavia, Il.
Secretary, as you know Fermilab is an important issue to me and the residents of my district. Fermilab is home to the largest and most powerful particle accelerator in the world. During this decade, and well into the next, Fermilab will represent the only opportunity for the U.S. high energy physics community to carry out research at the forefront of the field.
Fermilab has developed a cost-effective plan for increasing the luminosity of its Tevatron accelerator by more than a factor of 5 above its design. An integral aspect of the plan is the replacement of the 20-year-old Main Ring with the Main Injector. The construction of the Main Injector will give the Tevatron more power for discovery by increasing the number of particles
that collide at high energy. As I sit here I fully understand the difficult economic situation this country faces. In times such as this it is not possible to fund all projects, regardless of their merit. Some prioritization must be used. As you are no doubt aware, the high energy physics community has been very good at just this type of prioritization exercise. This is evidenced by the work of DOE's latest HEPAP Subpanel known as the “Witherell report."
The Witherell report concluded that in the high energy physics base program the construction of Fermilab's Main Injector is the highest priority project. Period.
In light of the Witherell report, I am concerned that this budget allocates relatively low levels for the funding of the Main Injector. This budget drags out the construction of the project and has potentially damaging repercussions for the lab.
The current focus of the lab is on the discovery of the “top quark,” a subnuclear particle that is vital to the jigsaw puzzle of matter. The discovery of the top quark, or its non-discovery, is important because it would confirm the Standard Model, or mean that it was in some way incorrect. As this April 14, 1993 New York Times article notes, the 15 year-old hunt for the particle is being hindered by accelerator design problems, the most important of which is the need to create more protons that collide at high energy. The construction of the Main Injector is designed to solve this problem.
It is important to me and to many in the high energy physics community that this project be completed as soon as possible and that future budgets reflect the high priority of this project.
I ask unanimous consent that I be allowed to insert information regarding the Main Injector project into the record at this point.
Let me also bring up a subject very important to Illinois, the advanced reactor research program at Argonne National Laboratory. The administration originally proposed wiping out the entire advanced reactor program. It then added back funding to carry out the actinide research by the Integral Fast Reactor.
The IFR has proven successful in all of its aspects. It has demonstrated that it will shut itself down without human or mechanical intervention when forced into accident conditions. It has demonstrated that it is both economical to operate and to operate and can assure an electrical supply far into the next century. It has burned up to 20 percent of the nuclear potential in its fuel without having to be removed and replaced in the reactor. The average for commercial fuel is replacement after a 5-percent burnup. It is at this moment demonstrating that it can take the longest living actinides, or nuclear waste products in used fuel, and generate electricity from them in the reactor.
I hope the critics of the program will see fit to move beyond the generalities of the nuclear power and examine the IFR’s solid basis of performance and potential.
Mr. SHARP. The gentlelady from Arkansas, Ms. Lambert, I think that she was here and had to go to another subcommittee meeting, I believe.
The gentleman from California, Mr. Lehman, is recognized.
Mr. LEHMAN. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and I, too, just want to welcome Secretary O'Leary. It is good to see you today. You will enjoy most of your visits to this committee, and I certainly hope you enjoy this one this morning.