Congressman Blunt Interview

Congressman Roy BluntMr. BLUNT. I thank the gentleman for yielding.

Mr. Chairman, first, I want to thank Chairman PASTOR and Ranking Member FRELINGHUYSEN for recognizing the importance of this center, the Missouri Alternative Renewable Energy Technology Center, located at Crowder College in southwest Missouri. I am even glad that Congressman Flake created an opportunity to speak about this project.

I really don’t object to this process at all. I think the more we determine how we are deciding how to spend money, the better off the country is. I also think that it’s good to understand that not every decision on where to spend our research and development money should be made by the current administration or by the current Department of Energy. In fact, I am proud of the research that we are doing in southwest Missouri, and it has already had and will continue to have an impact regionally and nationally on renewable energy technology.

This center will serve as a living laboratory. It already serves as a living laboratory, modeling the best practices for solar and thermodynamic energy systems and striving to go even beyond zero energy consumption. Through these efforts, it has served as a regional center.

The project we are talking about today integrates a variety of green construction practices, such as Earth shelter design, a green roof, rainwater harvesting, and low-volatile organic compounds, interiors and furnishings. This is designed to be one of the very first working examples of a net positive energy structure. In other words, this won’t be a structure that just produces its own energy. It actually will be a structure that produces all of the energy it uses. It goes beyond the net zero building to put energy back into the grid, and it will provide distributed power to the electric utility company that serves the college.

Crowder College has long been a pioneer in renewable energy. In 1984, Crowder College, a junior college–a 2-year college–designed and built the first solar-powered vehicle to cross the United States. These are southwest Missouri kids out of high school and who are in their first or second year of post-high school training. They built the first solar car that did that.

This same group, this same school, finished second behind General Motors in the first world solar challenge in Australia in 1982. In 2001, they won the fuel-efficiency category of the second ethanol vehicle challenge. That’s a vehicle, by the way, that is still used on the campus as a maintenance vehicle. This school won the People’s Choice Awards in 2002 in Washington, D.C., for the solar house competition.

So they don’t come to this, competing for Federal funds, without having had successes. They don’t come without having done things that others have copied, shared and looked at. They come asking for this funding not only to help design, engineer and construct a center that is about to go out for bid but also to use that funding to help people learn how to use these building techniques. They are right there on the campus, learning how to create jobs. We talk a lot here about green energy jobs. This is a center that will actually be used as a laboratory in the building process to teach others how to do this green energy job creation and green energy building.

As we know, buildings consume 48 percent of the Nation’s energy. The MARET Center will consume zero percent of the Nation’s energy. In fact, it will put energy back into the system. Programs like this are crucial to the efforts we have for our economy and for our national security. Our Nation needs to have a new energy policy, an all-of-the-above strategy, and this is definitely part of that all-of-the-above strategy.

So I urge my colleagues to look at this issue and to look at it carefully, to look at a program that has already had national impact and to help this small 2-year college continue to do the things that they have been doing for over 20 years now to help establish green-collar jobs and green technology.

I would love to see our colleagues come to southwest Missouri and look at what is happening at the MARET Center, because people from all over America will be following their efforts and will benefit from this investment in the future.