U.S. Congressman Frank A. LoBiondo (NJ-02) today voted in favor of H.R. 2454, the ?American Clean Energy and Security Act of 2009? ? comprehensive legislation that seeks to make the United States energy independent by focusing the nation?s energy policy toward clean, renewable sources such as wind, solar and nuclear.
?For South Jersey residents who lived through the energy crisis of the 1970s, the nation witnessed the rationing of gas, stations sold-out of fuel, and our country?s absolute reliance on foreign nations to save us from our increasing consumption. Jobs were lost. The economy sank further into recession. And the nation did not take action.
?Then, in the 1990s, there was a bitter debate over increasing fuel efficiency standards in automobiles, yet minimal action was taken despite the technological capabilities to go further. I have long said that if Congress had passed higher standards in the 1990s ? standards I supported – then our consumption and annual fuel costs now would be half. However, the oil corporations and automobile makers were against such standards and now lose billions of dollars to foreign competitors who were forward-thinking, developed fuel efficient technologies and sell hybrid vehicles that get 40 to 50 miles per gallon.
?The ?American Clean Energy and Security Act? is the opportunity to break the cycle of inaction and finally move our nation towards real energy independence.
?This is by no means a perfect bill but, for New Jersey businesses and families, many of the federal standards that will be created are mirroring state standards long on the books. For the past decade, New Jersey has been forward-looking in its energy policy and sought to establish diverse, renewable alternative sources of energy to meet the state?s needs. From the development of biofuels based on crop waste and planning for additional nuclear reactors, to building small and large-scale wind farms and countless solar panel projects, individuals and municipalities recognized opportunities and took action.
?In the process, new local businesses were founded and jobs were created in the emerging ?green industry? here in New Jersey. What must happen next is the growth of domestic manufacturing of the materials needed for alternative energy production, such as solar cells, wind turbines and environmentally-friendly buildings. This legislation rightly focuses on growing that manufacturing base, creating green jobs and finally establishing our energy independence. The positive effects will be felt nationally and here in South Jersey. These are objectives I have long believed and advocated for as part of a national energy policy.
?The economic crisis has affected every resident and every small business in South Jersey. Families and employers are making difficult decisions each day and they are looking to Congress for assistance and leadership. In working through this comprehensive bill, I heard from South Jersey business owners, manufacturers and energy producers, consumer and environmental groups and local residents about the real impact specific provisions of the bill would have. I also reviewed emails and phone opinions that came into my offices, which numbered in the hundreds.
?Today?s vote was by no means an easy vote. As the legislation continues to work through the Senate and be presented to Congress for final consideration, I will re-evaluate any changes that are made to ensure our state?s interests, as well as the interests of South Jersey businesses and families, are promoted and protected.?