State of the Union

Full interview with Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.)

Rep. Paul Tonko (D-N.Y.), a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, reacts to the President's proposal for an Energy Security Trust.


Monica Trauzzi: Congressman, tonight the president talked about forming an energy security trust to divert some oil and gas revenues to technology research and development. What are your thoughts on that?

Rep. Paul Tonko: Absolutely empowering. Research equals jobs. No better way to say it. We are a nation of great intellect. We need to harness the intellectual capacity into innovation, new ideas, new approaches, new solutions that translates into jobs. And no sophisticated society can maintain its greatness without the challenge of coming up with new product lines, ways to harness energy, create a domestic supply, induce energy efficiency as our top priority, this is the way we make it happen, through research and the trust fund that he would establish, the sliding over of dollars into new ideas, new concepts, which challenge all of Americans. That's wonderful.

Monica Trauzzi: You come from a state where fracking is being discussed quite a bit right now. What did you think about his remarks on natural gas? Did he give enough direction on where the country should be going?

Rep. Paul Tonko: Well, I think he talked about the transition fuel, that it is to maintain a cleaner outcome, as we grow a new supply, a new mix of domestically produced power. So as a transition supply, I think it's good. I, for one, think we need diversification in that fuel mix. Getting energy-dependent on a single fuel can be a dangerous path. But I think he approached it in a way that allows us to bridge the period of innovation and discovery in a way that will allow us to reduce those costs and clean our environment.

Monica Trauzzi: He sort of challenged Congress to try to pass some form of climate legislation, a bipartisan approach ...

Rep. Paul Tonko: Absolutely.

Monica Trauzzi: It doesn't have legs, though.

Rep. Paul Tonko: Well, you know, I think more and more we're beginning to see reality, and having witnessed tremendous damage and loss of life through Irene and Lee that impacted my district, watching the comeback efforts of another section of New York because of Superstorm Sandy, tells us that the 100-year storms that are occurring every few years tell us the nomenclature is off, that something wicked is happening, and that global warming, climate change, are real dynamics that need to be addressed with science and not cast aside as if it's just some unusual occurrence. We need to see it for what it is. And I think the president gave us a challenge with climate change opportunities, and I don't think he'll walk away from that effort. I think he's going to really be forceful in his attempt to get us to address what needs to be done with precious little time to do it. And as stewards of the environment, it behooves us to transfer over this environment to the next generations in a better stage of affairs than we inherited it.

Monica Trauzzi: All right, congressman, thank you for your time.

Rep. Paul Tonko: OK, thank you so much.

[End of Audio]



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