Butterfield’s Address to Energy Summit Pushes for a New Energy Economy And Job Creation in Rural America

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman G.K. Butterfield (NC-01) delivered remarks before the Nuclear Energy Institute’s Nuclear Energy Assembly and Supplier Exposition in Charlotte. Butterfield addressed the need for Congress to develop a comprehensive long-term energy policy that would decrease American dependence on foreign oil and stimulate job growth in rural America.

“The issue of energy independence is paramount to the future of America,” said Butterfield, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.  “We must invest in the country’s future by investing in renewable and clean energy sources that will create a sustainable and affordable energy future.”

Butterfield’s remarks reflected a vision for a new energy economy.  He called for bipartisan action to revive the American economy by fostering the development of renewable and clean energies.  According to Butterfield, these new energy sources will foster economic growth and provide high-paying jobs for Americans who live in rural areas.

Butterfield added, “Rural communities are uniquely positioned to support new energy developments.  By uniting leaders from  government, the private sector, universities and community colleges, we can lead the way to a stronger economy based on the energy sources of tomorrow.”

The Nuclear Energy Institute’s Nuclear Energy Assembly serves as the official gathering for energy experts and top executives to address current challenges to the nuclear industry and America’s energy outlook.

A full transcript of Congressman Butterfield’s remarks can be found below:

Congressman G. K. Butterfield

Remarks to the Nuclear Energy Assembly

The Westin Charlotte

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Good morning.  Thank you Mayor Foxx for hosting us in your great city. Thank you Jim Rogers for introducing me and for the important work you do.
My message today is simple.  It’s a message that we have heard over and over again, but it’s worth repeating.  The Congress must get serious about implementing a long term energy policy, a solution that will diversify our energy sources and put us on a path to a new energy future.   

Just as we have solved great challenges in the past, we have the capacity to face this challenge and move energy policy in a new direction.  I’m speaking of an energy policy that will make electricity cleaner and cheaper and protect the bottom line of energy suppliers.  Any new energy policy must include nuclear energy.

The consequences of inaction are enormous and unacceptable.  I dare not bore you with the details for you know them all so well.  But, we are running out of time, and we must act now!

Where do we start?  We begin by recognizing energy policy as an issue that is neither Democrat nor Republican.  It’s an American issue. President Obama challenged our country to generate 80 percent of our electricity from clean energy sources by 2035. I believe this is a goal we can achieve.

Thirty years ago, the United States produced more than 80 percent of the world’s wind capacity, and 90 percent of its solar capacity.  China has surpassed the United States in wind capacity and Germany leads in solar capacity. Something is wrong with this picture.

We have always been able to rise to the challenge of global competition by putting our best minds to work.  We must have public and private partnerships engaging in research and development. We must increase the number of students receiving degrees in science, technology, engineering, and math.  We must provide small businesses with access to capital to support innovation and job creation. Our economic security and our national security depend on it.

I believe the United States’ commitment to nuclear energy is strong. Nuclear energy remains a key part of the energy mix in policy proposals from the White House and Congress. Personally, I will fight to protect Title XVII loan guarantees for the nuclear industry.

We have also seen examples of the industry and the Administration working together to ensure better safety and security of nuclear facilities. Though we have not yet settled on how to manage used fuel, I am sure reasonable minds can come together to develop a workable solution.   
Investment in nuclear energy must touch all parts of our country — rural and urban; public and private schools; research universities and community colleges. The new energy economy must benefit all Americans. It is the only way to win the future.

The South is positioned to lead the way in development of nuclear energy. The two nuclear energy plants in the latest stages of development are in the South. And, North Carolina is ready, willing and able to become a hub for nuclear energy. Developing new plants in the South should also help improve the electricity infrastructure, which will provide safe and reliable power to rural communities for years to come.  We see the proposed Duke & Progress Energy merger, which would create the nation’s largest utility and the third largest nuclear operator, positioned to make large scale investments in critical infrastructure, including new nuclear plants, transmission and environmental controls.  I challenge all of you to invest in rural communities as the nuclear industry continues to grow.

Surprisingly, for families making less than $50,000 annually, transportation is their largest expense—even larger than housing.  Even a slight increase in the cost of gasoline, or the price to heat and cool their homes, can have a devastating impact on low-income and middle class families. So, our new energy future must not only provide choice, but lower costs.  On the supply-side, nuclear plants are low-cost producers of energy and provide long-term price stability. We must also address the demand-side by helping people make their homes more efficient.

Finally, a new energy future creates jobs.  With lower energy costs, businesses have more money to invest and hire.  When jobs are created, consumers have more money to spend and save.  Therefore, a new energy future is about a new energy economy.  This boosts our economy and everyone benefits.

There are some in Washington who suggest that the federal government should only be minimally involved in developing alternative sources of energy.

It would be a colossal failure of leadership for the Congress to simply sit back and allow competition and market forces to dictate energy policy.  If no federal policy exists, the status quo will have a harmful impact– on our environment, on our economy, and on our future.        

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can come together to meet this challenge by harnessing the American spirit that makes us great. Our moment is now! So, let’s get to work and power America with an energy that is clean, safe and reliable, and preserves God’s gift for generations to come.

Thank you.