Casten Urges House Appropriations Committee to Include Climate Priorities in Funding Bill

June 23, 2020
Press Release

Downers Grove, IL. – Today U.S. Representative Sean Casten (IL-06) testified to the House Appropriations Committee urging investment in fighting climate change in the Fiscal Year 2021 (FY21) spending bills. The Trump Administration’s FY21 budget requested significant cuts to climate science. Trump seeks to eliminate the Department of Energy’s (DOE) ARPA-E program; cut the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Air and Energy Research program by 65%; and cut the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (NOAA) by 40%.

Specifically, Casten cited the need to invest in energy efficiency and clean energy by funding the DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at $2.8 billion for its critical programs to secure America’s energy future. He also advocated for increased research to get to a zero net-carbon economy, and for robust funding across the entire government including NOAA, the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Defense.

Casten said in part, “I have come to urge funding to address the greatest existential threat to life on Earth- climate change. That includes investing in solutions we know that work and are ready to be deployed, as well as robust funding for our nation’s climate change research programs to pave the way for a clean energy future… From increasingly intense storms to sea-level rise, from extreme heat to prolonged droughts, the Earth’s climate is making its displeasure known, and it comes at an ever-growing cost to us all. It’s in your backyard and mine. And there is no debate among anyone qualified to debate the merits of the science.”

A video of Congressman Casten’s testimony can be found here.

 Approps

Rep. Casten testifies to House Appropriations Committee

A full transcript of his remarks, as prepared for delivery, are below:

Thank you, Chairwoman Lowey and Ranking Member Granger, for providing members the opportunity to share our thoughts on the FY21 appropriations bill. I have come to urge funding to address the greatest existential threat to life on Earth- climate change. That includes investing in solutions we know that work and are ready to be deployed, as well as, robust funding for our nation’s climate change research programs to pave the way for a clean energy future.

From increasingly intense storms to sea-level rise, from extreme heat to prolonged droughts, the Earth’s climate is making its displeasure known, and it comes at an ever-growing cost to us all. It’s in your backyard, it’s in my backyard. And there is no debate among anyone qualified to debate the merits of the science.

We have to take unparalleled action over the next decade to ensure that the global temperature to remain below 1.5 degrees Celsius. The Fourth National Climate Assessment concluded we “must act aggressively to adapt to current impacts and mitigate future catastrophes” and confirmed that “without significant global greenhouse gas mitigation and regional adaptation efforts, climate change is expected to cause substantial losses to infrastructure and property and impede the rate of economic growth over this century.”

In spite of that, the Trump Administration has repetitively sought to severely cut or even eliminate climate research programs. The President’s FY 2021 budget request cuts to climate science. It eliminates the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E program, which creates the renewable energy technologies necessary to decarbonize our economy; cuts the EPA’s Air and Energy Research program by 65%; and cuts the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research by 40%. Without strong funding for climate science programs such as these, we will not be equipped to address the greatest challenge facing our species.

We’ve got to do two things. Number one: we must invest in those climate solutions we already know work - energy efficiency & clean energy are easy solutions to an urgent crisis. Across the world there are legions of nations with similar (if not better) qualities of life who use less than 50% of the energy the U.S. does per dollar of GDP. Why? Because they’ve recognized that policies that make us more efficient in our energy use yield positive returns. What that means, to dumb it down, is that even if you are a tinfoil hat-wearing climate denier, your economic self-interest alone is sufficient to embrace these policies.  That will require new incentives for low-carbon technologies, but even more important is the elimination of subsidies for fossil fuels and associated regulatory barriers to economic – and environmental sustainability.   We have the opportunity to significantly “green up” our federal building and vehicle fleet and we must invest in our clean energy economy by funding the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at $2.8 billion for its critical programs to secure America’s energy future.

The Second thing we have to do is invest in a massive research, design, demonstration, & deployment effort for those areas of the economy where we do not have low-carbon alternatives.  For many industrial products, including steel, concrete, silicon, and fertilizer, fossil fuel is used as a chemical (rather than energy) input.  If we are going to get to a zero net-carbon economy, we are going to have to invent wholly new ways to make these critical materials.  This will demand basic research, and government-backed deployment for early stage scale-up technologies. That’s going to require robust funding across the entire government including NOAA, EPA, DOT, the Department of Energy Office of Science, and the Department of Defense. Specifically, $582 Millions Advanced Research Projects, $94 million in Energy Innovation hubs, and $130 billion in Energy Frontier Research Centers.

I hope the Committee will consider these proposals. I look forward to working with any of you in any way I can to combat this crisis. Chairwoman Lowey, thank you again for having me here today and thank you all for your leadership.

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