|August 2, 2001
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
|WASHINGTON, D.C.—FALEOMAVAEGA GETS TERRITORIES INCLUDED IN NATIONAL ENERGY BILL – PASSES HOUSE OF REPS|
| Congressman Faleomavaega announced today
that at his request, a provision to provide federal assistance to improve
the energy self-sufficiency of the insular areas and to provide new funding
to protect electrical lines from severe weather was included in the House’s
energy bill. The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives by
a vote of 240 to 189 on August 2nd.
“I am pleased to have played a role in assisting American Samoa and the other territories in obtaining authorization for a new energy assessment and for new funding to harden our electrical lines against typhoons,” said Faleomavaega.
The House Committee on Resources considered its portion of President Bush’s energy legislation two weeks ago. The Republicans and Democrats each had a version of the bill they wanted adopted. The Democrat bill contained a section to help the territories – the Republican bill did not. The Democrat bill prohibited oil and gas exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) – the Republican bill authorized exploration in ANWR for the first time. After a lengthy mark-up of the energy bill with 23 amendments considered, the Republican bill was adopted with no assistance provided to the territories.
“One of the most controversial provisions in the bill was the provision to open ANWR to oil and gas exploration. I ended up voting with the Republicans on this provision because the Native Alaskans in the area strongly supported it,” noted Faleomavaega. Most environmental groups in the United States, and some Native Alaskan groups in other parts of Alaska did not support development of this area. In the end, I was persuaded by the Kaktovic tribe -- the Native Alaskans who live right on the coastal plain and who will be most directly affected. Many other groups in Alaska supported exploration in this area, as did members of the labor unions in Alaska.”
“In part because of my vote to move forward with exploration of ANWR, Chairman Hansen agreed to my request to include in the Republican bill the territories provision from the Democratic bill. Later the Resources Committee bill was merged with other sections from other committees and it was this combined bill – 510 pages in length – that was considered on the floor of the House this week. I am pleased to report that American Samoa stands to benefit from this bill should it be enacted into law,” said the Congressman.
The territories title of the bill does two
things – it authorizes new funding to harden electrical utility lines against
typhoons and hurricanes, and directs the federal government to update the
energy assessments for the territories.
The last energy assessment of the insular areas was completed in 1982 – nearly 20 years ago. The legislation passed by the House of Representatives directs the Secretary of the Interior, in consultation with the Secretary of Energy and the Governor of each insular area, to update the long-term energy plans of each area. The goal is to reduce their reliance on energy imports by the year 2010, and maximize, to the extent feasible, use of indigenous energy sources, including solar, wave and wind power.
“This bill passed the House by a comfortable margin. The Senate is working its way through its own bill, and the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources began voting on a section of the bill this week. It is expected that the Senate bill will differ in several respects from the House bill, but there is a desire in Washington to enact energy legislation during this Congress. I will do all I can to ensure that the territories provision remains in the final bill,” concluded Faleomavaega.
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