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Skelton says House has an obligation to move energy reform bill forward
Skelton says House has an obligation to move energy reform bill forward

Congressman Ike Skelton
WASHINGTON, D.C. (June 26, 2009) — Today, Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) delivered the following speech in the U.S. House of Representatives during debate on H.R. 2998, the American Clean Energy and Security Act. The Congressman’s remarks are set forth below.

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June 26, 2009

Madam Speaker, as a farm state representative, I have said for quite some time that any climate change legislation approved by the House must take into consideration the unique needs of rural America — including those of farmers and rural electric cooperatives.

Since first being introduced, the climate change measure has improved a great deal thanks in large part to the work of House Agriculture Committee Chairman Collin Peterson and his negotiations with House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman.

I first approached this legislation with a great deal of skepticism, but I have since been pleased that some — though not all — concerns of utilities, electric cooperatives, and farmers have been addressed in the version of the bill to be considered today.

As this bill was being drafted, I have heard the views of Fourth District residents and have raised them with House leaders. To be sure, the measure before us is not perfect, but it is a step in the right direction. I think it is important that we move this bill forward. After we pass it in the House, the measure will receive additional refinement in the Other Body. I think that Congressional leadership and the Administration understand the concerns of rural America, and I will keep working to ensure our point of view is more completely addressed in the final bill.

Truth be told, Congress has an obligation to enact energy reform legislation this year, especially given that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is working right now to create tough, costly regulations on greenhouse gases emitted from livestock, farms, factories, and utilities. Without congressional action, EPA will have free reign. That is unacceptable to me and ought to be unacceptable to every farmer and business owner in Missouri.

Unlike the EPA proposal, the House bill would exempt livestock and farms from greenhouse gas regulation. And, it would provide farmers an opportunity to potentially profit from their carbon-friendly farm practices by participating in the carbon market.

Also for farmers, the legislation would correct a problem that has been lingering since enactment of the 2007 energy bill. For the next five years, it would prevent EPA from calculating indirect land use when determining how to implement our nation’s renewable fuel standard. This action is good news for ethanol and biodiesel production facilities and for the farmers who sell their goods to these facilities.

Energy reform is not just a matter of wanting to keep our air and planet clean, as worthy and as important as those goals are. It is also a matter of national security. In recent years, the Pentagon has taken a hard look at how climate change could have impact on global security and stability. There are real national and global security implications when lakes go dry or when oceans rise. As Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, this aspect of climate change worries me a great deal.

Congressman Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) serves as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. Congressman Skelton’s website is at http://www.house.gov/skelton.

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