Congressman Bobby Rush

Representing the 1st District of Illinois

Opening Statement by Rep. Rush at Energy and Power Subcommittee Hearing on Alternative Fuels and Vehicles

Jul 17, 2012
Press Release

CONTACT: Renee Ferguson
(773) 224-6500 ofc.; (202) 674-0891 mobile
Renee.Ferguson@mail.house.gov

WASHINGTON — Congressman Bobby L. Rush (D-IL) made the following statement at today’s Energy and Power Subcommittee Hearing:

“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, for holding today’s hearing.

Mr. Chairman, during last week’s industry hearing we learned that we face both significant opportunities and challenges as we strive to meet the goal of 36 billion gallons of biofuels by 2022, as mandated by the Renewable Fuels Standard, included in the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007.

And, Mr. Chairman, today more than ever, we see why it is extremely necessary to move our country towards a greater reliance on alternative fuels and renewable sources of energy, as opposed to carbon-intense fossil fuels that emit dangerous levels of greenhouse gases and contribute to climate change.

Over the past few years, we have seen an uptick in severe wildfires and extreme weather events associated with global climate change occurring across the country.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the United States has set more than 40,000 hot temperature records this year, and the last 12 months have been the hottest ever recorded in U.S. history.

At the end of June, more than 113 million people in the U.S. were in areas under extreme heat advisories, and just last week, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) declared a federal disaster area in more than 1,000 counties covering 26 states, making it the largest disaster declaration ever made by the agency.

Mr. Chairman, today, fully two-thirds of the country is experiencing drought, with states from Kentucky to the Midwest facing severe losses of corn and other crops due to the lack of rain.

In fact, currently, at least half of the nation's grazing pastures are in poor or very poor condition, and up to thirty percent of the nation's corn crop is in poor or very poor condition, which may impact the price of food, consumer goods, and ethanol.

Additionally, Mr. Chairman, dry conditions are taking a toll on the Great Lakes where water levels in four of the five lakes have plummeted this summer due to high evaporation rates and insufficient rainfall, which of course, may pose significant challenges for those of us who rely on the lakes for drinking water and other economic activities.

Even here in here in the Nation’s Capital, two weeks ago, a “derecho” caused over a million homes to lose power in the Washington, D.C. region, while states from Florida to Minnesota, have experienced some of the most damaging floods in history due to torrential downpours.

Mr. Chairman, regardless of party, or geography, or one’s dislike of President Obama’s policies, the Members of this subcommittee can no longer afford to stick their heads in the sand and pretend that Mother Nature is not showing us signs that we need to act.

Indeed, scientists are also increasingly sounding the alarms and informing us that these natural catastrophes are anticipated consequences of climate change and are expected to continue.

Mr. Chairman, at some point, this subcommittee needs to move away from holding partisan, doomed-to-fail political messaging votes, and get on with the business of working together to actually enact policies that will help move this country’s energy policies forward and help move us away from the point of no return in regards to climate change.

So I look forward to hearing from today’s Administration witnesses on how we can increase our reliance on alternative fuels, and I yield back the balance of my time.”

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