|Supporting the Environmental Cause|
|Friday, 01 June 2012 00:00|
Today, the water we drink, the air we breathe, and the foods we eat are threatened by many in Congress with an anti-environmental agenda. For those of us who support the environmental cause, now is the time to be extra vigilant in protecting what we’ve fought so hard to accomplish.
I hope you’ll take some time to read what I think is important, and should you have any questions or comments, let me hear from you.
The Majority-led House of Representatives has averaged more than one anti-environmental vote for every day the House has been in session. As a senior Member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, I’ve led in the defense of our laws that protect our environment and health. I’ve repeatedly voted against an anti-environment agenda and instead, voted to keep the basic protections that have existed for decades, which will keep the environment and families healthy.
My voting record this Congress:
Click here for a legislative database of the environmental votes this Congress.
I’ve also sponsored several amendments that highlight the importance of relying on science and putting the health of families above the interests of industry. I’ve fought to reduce air pollutants that cause asthma, respiratory diseases, and cardiovascular problems, and I’ve spoken in favor of protecting our kids from harmful mercury pollutants from cement plants. And I’ve stood behind protecting EPA’s authority to make permit decisions.
Nearly half a million miles of pipelines transporting natural gas and oil crisscross the United States, usually without incident. The system powers our economy and is impressive in its efficiency. Unfortunately, when something goes wrong, the consequences can be deadly: explosions, fires, noxious fumes, and environmental damage. On September 10, 2010, a natural gas explosion in San Bruno, California, killed eight people, injured dozens, and destroyed 55 homes. Clearly, safety must be a top priority for any expansion of America’s pipeline system.
In the House Energy and Commerce Committee, we heard strong, well-informed concerns that pipelines, such as the Keystone Pipeline, that carry tar sands and the chemical bitumen may pose greater safety risks than even those pipelines carrying conventional or synthetic crude. Most disturbing, the agency responsible for pipeline safety regulation has not done a comprehensive review of diluted bitumen.
I made every effort to improve pipeline safety in the bills that came before the Committee, and I was successful in including language in the pipeline safety bill that requires a comprehensive review of the pipeline safety regulations, with an emphasis on reviewing diluted bitumen safety. Since this study is not yet completed, I offered amendments to several of the “fast-tracking” Keystone Pipeline bills to require a review of the safety study before approving the project. Although my amendments failed largely along party lines, I will not give up. I believe we need to look no further than the San Bruno incident to know that we have to take the proper safety precautions now to protect lives, money and property.
In January 2009, Congress passed into law the Recovery Act which included more than $80 billion in clean energy investments to jump-start our economy and provide funding for green manufacturing. Now, we must hold the line to protect the investments that have helped make our country a clean energy leader in the 21st century.
Last year, 108 of my colleagues joined me in opposing a $1.5 billion cut to a program that’s helping automotive manufacturers stay competitive and create more energy efficient vehicles. The program, known as the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing (ATVM) Program, has supported over 41,000 jobs from Michigan to California and has boosted our green manufacturing sector tremendously.
Cutting funding for this program would have been short-sighted and hurt our nation’s ability to retool manufacturing facilities for 21st century green vehicle production. Fortunately, the promise of a new age of manufacturing resonated powerfully, and the bill eliminating the program was defeated.
The federal budget is a reflection of our values, and I believe it’s important to prioritize the programs that will protect our land, water and air, and promote clean energy technologies. I’ve voted for funding to put scientists to work looking for the next great discovery, creating jobs in cutting-edge technologies, and making smart investments that will help businesses in every community succeed in a global economy. While current budget constraints necessitate difficult budget choices, I remain committed to ensuring that these programs, which benefit our communities and our environment, are adequately funded.
If you or your organization applies for a federal grant or needs help with a federal agency, my staff will work with you to identify the best possible way to position your project for funding or help you look for alternative funding options. Please click here for more information about funding.
I’m proud that many expect this to be the biggest commercial salmon season our state has seen since 2005. This is welcome news for consumers that want local salmon and relief for the communities on our coast that have suffered during the many poor harvests and frequent closures between 2006 and 2011. I know firsthand from fishermen and women on the coast how dramatic and harmful the collapse of the salmon has been. In 2008, the Secretary of Commerce declared a complete ban on salmon fishing along the West Coast for the first time in 160 years. I was proud to fight for $170 million in aid to the salmon industry, with $121 million intended to assist communities in California.
Pigeon Point Lighthouse has been a landmark of the Coastside since it first began aiding seafarers in 1872. It is still one of the tallest lighthouses in the country and it’s one of only five lighthouses to appear in the National Register of Historic Places. While there is much more work to be done to complete preservation, I’m proud to have secured $250,000 in the House-passed 2011 Department of the Interior Federal funding bill to help with the renovation of this historic lighthouse. Although the Senate did not pass the final bill, I’ve continued to fight for funding and sent several letters in support of their grant applications. Click here to read a letter of support I sent to the California State Coastal Conservancy.
I recently joined leaders at NASA Ames for the opening of the new LEED platinum certified Sustainability Base, a facility that will generate a considerable amount of its own renewable power by utilizing solar panels, a highly efficient fuel cell, and a small wind turbine. This is the first new building at Ames in over 25 years and incorporates NASA technologies and designs not found in most buildings on earth. The water purification system was originally designed by NASA for long-term use on the International Space Station. The Sustainability Base also has a real-time intelligent management system allowing the building to anticipate and react to changes in sunlight, temperature, and usage, and over time, it will optimize its performance automatically in response to internal and external change. I’m honored to represent NASA Ames and celebrate their newest cutting-edge energy work.
Caltrain is the backbone of the Peninsula’s transportation system. It brings employees to work, kids to school, and tourists up and down our coast. I’ve advocated for an electrified Caltrain, which will make it more environmentally friendly and bring it into the 21st century. An electrified Caltrain will relieve congestion on surface streets, reduce power consumption, and will lower air pollutant emissions by up to 90 percent.
The Moffett Field Bay Trail dedication is a moment I’ll always remember. Many stakeholders, including NASA Ames, local developers, and the Department of Justice, came together to find the appropriate path forward. We successfully reached an agreement and now pedestrians and bicyclists are able to enjoy the beauty of the Bay and nature along the new trail segment behind Moffett Federal Airfield.
Click here to read more about the 500-mile recreational corridor extending around the shoreline of San Francisco Bay.
The San Francisquito Creek project will provide flood protection, ecosystem restoration, and recreational enhancement for the cities of Palo Alto, East Palo Alto, Menlo Park, and portions of San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties. Each year, I’ve fought and secured funding for this project because it will provide flood protection to thousands of residents and enhance the ecosystem for native steelhead trout and other important Bay Area species. Click here to read my latest letter to the Assistant Secretary of the Army for Civil Works advocating on behalf of San Francisquito Creek.
California is a leader in electric vehicle deployment and clean technology development. Our state currently accounts for 20 to 30 percent of all plug-in electric vehicle sales in the U.S., and several companies in our Congressional District are manufacturing the innovative technologies that make deployment possible.
I believe California is on the right track, and I’ve sponsored legislation to promote electric vehicle deployment across the country. Vehicles that use electricity reduce our need to import more foreign oil, and increase our energy independence and security because it is produced domestically. With high prices at the gas pump, we need alternatives that help families make ends meet. Moreover, electrifying our transportation sector encourages job creation and innovation—from electricians and contractors installing the charging stations, to engineers and scientists working on new batteries.
I'm very pleased that in April of this year, President Obama integrated my electric vehicle deployment legislation into his all-of-the-above approach to address rising gas prices. Click here to learn about the recent electric vehicle deployment announcement.
|Thomas Bill Search|