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Ranking Member Lucas Speaks on the House Floor in Opposition to H.R. 4447

Today House Science, Space, and Technology Ranking Member Frank Lucas spoke on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives in opposition to H.R. 4447, calling it a missed opportunity for meaningful action on climate change. Read his full statement here:

Thank you, Madame Speaker. I yield myself such time as I may consume.

I’m disappointed that we’re here today considering a massive, impractical messaging bill instead of voting on real clean energy solutions. At the very first Science Committee hearing this Congress, I committed to addressing climate change and global greenhouse gas emissions through science and technology. 

My Republican colleagues and I have worked in good faith to create bipartisan legislation that supports much-needed research and development into nascent clean energy technologies. And when I say bipartisan, I mean truly bipartisan. My friends across the aisle will try to characterize H.R. 4447 as bipartisan, but that’s not strictly accurate. This bill was written without Republican input, and we were given one week to read and consider 900 pages of legislative text. Some provisions in this bill were considered and passed with bipartisan support at the Committee level, but they were changed – without consultation – before they were included in this bill. Other provisions have a single Republican cosponsor, which technically makes them bipartisan, but certainly doesn’t indicate that there is widespread support from both parties.  

But Madame Speaker, we do have truly bipartisan bills on research and development of clean energy technologies. We could be considering those today. For instance, the Science Committee has a long history of strong support – from both sides of the aisle – of basic research. Why? Because without fail, basic research has generated breakthrough technologies that have revolutionized energy production in America, making it cleaner, cheaper, and more efficient. Basic research at our National Labs is pioneering technologies that capture carbon emissions from coal and natural gas, batteries that store energy from intermittent energy sources like wind and solar, and advanced nuclear reactors that can provide cleaner, more affordable power. 

This is the kind of work that private industry generally can’t perform because it’s simply too risky to invest in. Government-funded basic research makes groundbreaking discoveries, and American industry then translates that into marketable technologies, making our economy stronger and our energy production more efficient. 

So why does this bill largely ignore basic research? H.R. 4447 doesn’t include any support for the Department of Energy’s Office of Science, which drives basic research and represents more than half of the Department’s entire civilian federal R&D portfolio. Instead, the bill before us today spends $35 billion to increase funding for every applied energy office at DOE. While applied energy programs play an important role in improving efficiency in various industry sectors, they can only do so much. 

This bill is throwing money at renewable energy industries that are already mature and competitive, instead of investing in the next generation of clean energy technology. If you’ll pardon the farming analogy, this is like spending all of your money to build a better plow instead of investing in a tractor. 

If we truly want clean, affordable, and sustainable energy for Americans, we can and must do better than this. 

I’ve introduced legislation designed to boost American competitiveness and address climate change. H.R. 5685, the Securing American Leadership in Science and Technology Act, will double funding for the Office of Science, update our research facilities and infrastructure, and improve tech transfer. It’s a thoughtful investment in the future of American science. 

And there are other bipartisan bills we could be considering today – all of which have close Senate companions and strong bipartisan Senate interest. 

H.R. 4091, the ARPA-E Reauthorization Act, was passed out of the Science Committee last year after both sides came together to negotiate a consensus bill that doubles our investment in ARPA-E’s high-risk, high-reward research while establishing guardrails to ensure we’re using our limited research dollars wisely. 

H.R. 5374, the Advanced Geothermal Research and Development Act, authorizes cutting-edge geothermal research and development so we can take advantage of this vast and largely untapped renewable resource. 

And H.R. 2986, the Better Energy Storage Technology Act, or BEST Act, authorizes a cross-cutting research and development program to accelerate high-priority energy storage technology. This is critical to more efficient and consistent use of renewable technologies like solar and wind energy. 

Giving any one of these bills consideration today would guarantee more progress on clean energy technology than this messaging bill does. 

If we are serious about addressing climate change and providing Americans with clean, affordable energy, we need to be serious about the basic research that supports that goal. I hope we can put aside partisan performances like this and instead focus on supporting research into the next generation of clean energy technology. 

I urge my colleagues to oppose this bill, and I yield the balance of my time.

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