“With the economy now in a recession, many economists have called for an economic stimulus package that focuses spending on infrastructure and other goods and services that maximize both job creation over the short-term and return on investment over the long-term. President-elect Obama also favors such strategy, calling for the enactment of a stimulus bill that focuses on investments in clean energy programs and infrastructure and conservation projects that create ‘green-collar jobs.’
“A stimulus bill is expected to be taken up by Congress early in the next Congress. Although no final decisions have been made regarding the size and scope of a stimulus package, reports indicate that the proposal is likely to be BIG. The purpose of today’s hearing is to discuss a range of energy and natural resources programs that should be considered as part of an economic stimulus package. I am pleased that we have good testimony on this subject that we will be hearing today.
“I am also pleased that we have received numerous submissions for the Record from other interested groups proposing ideas for green stimulus spending. I have asked my staff to put together a compilation of these proposals and to post it on our Committee’s website, so that everyone interested in this topic can have ready access to these ideas as we move forward.
“Clearly, there are a number of important energy measures that can be implemented quickly and will provide green jobs, result in significant energy savings and enhance the infrastructure needed to move to a clean energy economy. They should be a central part of any stimulus package, and I’m pleased to see that President-elect Obama has made this a priority.
“I also hope that the package will include a substantial investment in the critical infrastructure needs facing the land and water management agencies under this Committee’s jurisdiction. These agencies face many billions of dollars in deferred maintenance of roads, trails, dams, and buildings, many of which are in great need of repair. In addition to this physical infrastructure, we need to invest in restoring our natural infrastructure — our forests, wetlands, rivers, and rangelands. For example, national park and forest restoration, water reuse, and abandoned mine land reclamation projects can be at least as good an investment in the context of an economic stimulus strategy as are other public works projects.
“I believe that we should provide substantial investment of funds for the land and water resource management agencies in the Department of the Interior and the Forest Service to restore the physical and natural infrastructure that they manage for the American people.
“I would also like to note that in addition to the stimulus package, we have a real opportunity to make progress on comprehensive and forward-looking energy policy in the 111th Congress. I hope we can put forward energy legislation that will be bold, and I hope, broadly supported, early in the next Congress.”
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