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Occurrences in the Congressional Record

Entry Title Date
The Future Of Energy In Africa November 19, 2014
Christopher Smith, R-NJ
"Mr. Speaker, in the 21st century, energy has become vital to modern societies. We no longer have to shop for food each day because refrigerators keep food cold and preserved longer—whether in our homes, in restaurants or during the process of trade. Cell phones, computers, televisions and other electronics require electrical power to allow us to lead more productive lives in the modern world. As we have seen in the current Ebola epidemic, it is necessary that medicines and plasma be kept cold so that they do not lose their potency. It is both unfortunate and unnecessary that more than half a billion Africans, especially in rural areas, live without electricity. Perhaps, the great irony is that Africa has more than enough energy capacity to join the rest of the world in utilizing modern technologies that require regular energy supplies. Ironically, 30% of global oil and gas discoveries over the past five years have been in sub-Saharan Africa. Yet currently, only 290 million out of 914 million Africans have access to electricity, and the total number lacking such access continues to rise. Bioenergy, mainly fuel wood and charcoal, is still a major source of fuel. Hydropower accounts for about 20% of total power supply in the region, but less than 10% of its estimated potential has been utilized. A hearing I convened last week examined the current and prospective impact of U.S. government programs such as Power Africa and Electrify Africa, as well as private international energy projects. Last year, Chairman Royce—backed by Ranking Members Eliot Engel and Karen Bass—and I introduced H.R. 2548—the Electrify Africa Act. This legislation seeks to build the African power sector—from increased production to more effective provision of energy. H.R. 2548 passed the House this past May, but has languished in the Senate ever since. If no Senate action is taken during the remaining days of this session of Congress, this legislation will have to be reintroduced next year. Days after the Electrify Africa Act was introduced in the House, the Administration announced its Power Africa initiative and has committed up to $7.81 billion in various types of U.S. technical and credit assistance and other aid to build the capacity of the African power sector. It seems that every few months, there is yet another discovery of petroleum or natural gas in Africa. Nevertheless, African countries remain net importers of energy, and the distribution of power from the many new sources of energy in Africa remains unfulfilled. This constrains trade and economic progress, social development and overall quality of life in Africa. Even now, one country—South Africa—accounts for two-thirds of Africa’s electricity generation. All of Africa produces less than 10% of the energy produced in the United States. Meanwhile, people across the continent are forced to meet their energy needs by gathering or purchasing charcoal or wood, often putting women in dangerous situations too far from home. Even when such fuels are safely brought back home, their use produces indoor pollution that too often contributes to sickness and early death. The current situation cannot continue much longer. Even with 13% of the world’s population, Africa represents only 4% of the world’s energy demand, but this situation is changing. According to a report this year by the International Energy Agency (IEA), since 2000, sub-Saharan Africa has seen rapid economic growth and a rise in energy use by 45%. We often speak of the rise in African economies, but for that rise to be truly realized, the rates of power generation and supply must match the growing demand for power. Those cell phones that are transforming all forms of commerce in Africa must be charged. The consumer goods the growing African middle class is purchasing need electricity. Africans are increasingly unwilling to accept the blackouts and power surges that have made life so difficult for so long. Africans who have traveled or lived elsewhere know this doesn’t have to be their lot in life. In fact, even those who don’t travel have seen how others live on their televisions—when power is available for them to operate. During the colonial period in Africa, countries were limited in their industrialization, but that period is now long past. It must no longer be used as the reason why African countries are behind in the process of industrialization or power generation. Today, this lag in power generation is more due to inadequate or unrealistic regulation, lack of finance for significant power generation projects, underinvestment in power generation even when financing is available, the disconnection of rural populations from national and regional power grids, high costs for electricity and other factors. These obstacles can be overcome, but they will require international and national collaboration, public-private partnerships and the will of governments and their citizens. We will not get to the point we believe is necessary overnight, but we will not get there at all if we do not take serious measures now and implement them faithfully and completely. African people, like people everywhere, deserve the benefits that modern technology has produced. Africa has become a prized global consumer market, but that market cannot be fully realized without electricity. Anyone visiting stores in Africa can see the many modern technologies offered to African consumers today; they merely need guaranteed electricity for those goods to be useful. With regular electricity, young students can not only study under electrical light, but also use computers to advance their studies. Homemakers can keep food fresh longer with refrigerators and can stretch household income farther. And hospitals can preserve blood plasma and medicines that can save lives. The two panels at the hearing I held last week examined international and national programs to achieve regular, sufficient electrical power in Africa and private projects to add to the supply of energy on the continent. The future of energy in Africa is brighter than it has been in the past, but diligent actions must be taken now to seize the opportunities that lay before us. "
Fighting Ebola: A Ground Level View November 19, 2014
Christopher Smith, R-NJ
"Mr. Speaker, the world community has known of the Ebola Virus Disease, more commonly called just Ebola, since it first appeared in a remote region near the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 1976. In previous outbreaks, Ebola had been confined to remote areas in which there was little contact outside the villages or areas in which it appear. Unfortunately, this outbreak, now an epidemic, spread from a village to an international center for regional trade and spread into urban areas in Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone that are crowded with limited medical services and limited resident trust of government. The unprecedented west African Ebola epidemic has not only killed more than 5,000 people, with more than 14,000 others known to be infected. This situation has skewed the planning for how to deal with this outbreak. In our two previous hearings on the Ebola epidemic, on August 7th and September 17th, we heard about the worsening rates of infection and challenges in responding to this from government agencies such as USAID and CDC and NGOs operating on the ground such as Samaritan’s Purse and SIM. The hearing I held yesterday was intended to take testimony from non-governmental organizations providing services on the ground currently in the affected countries, especially Liberia, so we can better determine how proposed actions are being implemented. In its early stages, Ebola manifests the same symptoms as less immediately deadly diseases, such as malaria, which means initial health care workers have been unprepared for the deadly nature of the disease they have been asked to treat. This meant that too many health care workers—national and international—have been at risk in treating patients who themselves may not know they have Ebola. Hundreds of health care workers have been infected and many have died, including some of the top medical personnel in the three affected countries. What we found quite quickly was that the health care systems in these countries, despite heavy investment by the United States and other donors, are quite weak. As it happens, these are three countries either coming out of very divisive civil conflict or experiencing serious political divisions. Consequently, citizens have not been widely prepared to accept recommendations from their governments. For quite some time, many people in all three countries would not accept that the Ebola epidemic was real. Even now, it is believed that despite the prevalence of burial teams throughout Liberia, for example, some families are reluctant to identify their suffering and dead loved ones for safe burials, which places family members and their neighbors at heightened risk of contracting this often fatal disease when patients are most contagious. The porous borders of these three countries have allowed people to cross between countries at will. This may facilitate commerce, but it also allows for diseases to be transmitted regionally. As a result, the prevalence of Ebola in these three countries has ebbed and flowed with the migration of people from one country to another. Liberia remains the hardest hit of the three countries, with more than 6,500 Ebola cases officially recorded. The number of infected and dead from Ebola could be as much as three times higher than the official figure due to underreporting. Organizations operating on the ground have told us over the past few months that despite the increasing reach of international and national efforts to contact those infected with Ebola, there remain many remote areas where it is still difficult to find residents or gain sufficient trust to obtain their cooperation. Consequently, the ebb and flow in infections continues. Even when it looks like the battle is being won in one place, it increases in a neighboring country and then reignites in the areas that looked to be successes. The United States is focusing on Liberia, the United Kingdom is focusing on Sierra Leone, and France and the European Union are supposed to focus on Guinea. In both Sierra Leone and Guinea, the anti-Ebola efforts are behind the pace of those in Liberia. This epidemic must brought under control in all three if our efforts are to be successful. Last week, I, along with Representatives Karen Bass and Mark Meadows of the Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations, introduced H.R. 5710, the Ebola Emergency Response Act. This bill lays out the steps needed for the U.S. government to effectively help fight the west African Ebola epidemic, especially in Liberia—the worst-hit of the three affected countries. This includes recruiting and training health care personnel, establishing fully functional treatment centers, conducting education campaigns among populations in affected countries and developing diagnostics, treatments and vaccines. H.R. 5710 confirms U.S. policy in the anti-Ebola fight and provides necessary authorities for the Administration to continue or expand anticipated actions in this regard. The bill encourages U.S. collaboration with other donors to mitigate the risk of economic collapse and civil unrest in the three affected countries. Furthermore, this legislation authorizes funding of the International Disaster Assistance account at the higher FY2014 level to effectively support these anti-Ebola efforts."
Honoring Park Labrea News And Beverly Press November 12, 2014
Henry Waxman, D-CA
"Mr. Speaker, I rise today to recognize the Park Labrea News and Beverly Press. Park Labrea News and Beverly Press has been a local paper and critical presence in Miracle Mile, Hancock Park, Hollywood and West Hollywood since 1946. Park Labrea news and Beverly Press have a long and important history in our community. Residents of Park Labrea began distributing a newsletter throughout the apartment complex in 1946 and within a few months “Parklabrea News” was born. In 1948, Joseph Duplain took over the newsletter and converted it into a newspaper. In the 1950s, Nan Dayhoff became editor and ran the paper for the next twenty years, publishing twice a month. In the 1970s veteran TV newsman Charles “Chuck” Riley acquired the paper. In 1990, the newspaper was sold to the current publishers, Michael and Karen Villalpando. By June 1990, the Villalpandos had expanded the paper to a weekly installation that reaches more than 5,000 homes in neighborhoods in Los Angeles. In 1991, the circulation was expanded again and the name Beverly Press was added to the original Park Labrea News masthead. Michael and Karen Villalpando have been the publishers for the last twenty-five years and have transformed the paper from a 3,000 circulation, bi-weekly newspaper, to a 13,000 paid circulation newspaper, delivered weekly with the Los Angeles Times. The Villalpando’s goal has been to provide the best local news coverage to the residents of Park Labrea, Hancock Park, Miracle Mile, the Fairfax District, Hollywood and West Hollywood. They have proved extremely successful in their goal. Local community members look forward to receiving the paper every Thursday and rely on it to get global news and community happenings. Michael and Karen Villalpando, through the Park Labrea News and Beverly Press, play a key role in sharing national, state, and local news within the community. I ask my colleagues to join me in thanking and recognizing Michael and Karen and the Park Labrea News and Beverly Press."
Stunning Contempt For The American People November 12, 2014
Keith Rothfus, R-PA
"The professor now regrets his comments. But does he regret that my constituents, Don and Karen of Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and millions of other Americans have lost their health care plan because of ObamaCare? Does he regret that steelworkers in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, and countless others are seeing their health insurance premiums skyrocket?"
Tribute To Friends Of Kenna Outdoor Learning Environment/Playground November 12, 2014
Shelley Capito, R-WV
"I would like to recognize The Friends of Kenna Association and local residents who are responsible for this extremely worthy project. Special recognition for the effort behind the project should go to Kerynn Sovic, Sonya White, Deanna Cunningham, Jessie Cox, Jessie Thompson, and Melissa Donelson. I would also like to salute the following: Mike Gwinn, John Zimmer, Corky McCorkle, John & Gina Myers family, Larry Thompsons, State Senator Mitch Carmichael, State Delegate Steve Westfall, Steve Wedge, Steve Chancey, Jim & Sally Laine, Amy Mellace, Larry & Terry Hersman, Paul & Aiden Barnette, Erin & Michael Sovic, Lisa Quisenberry, Gale Donelson, Robert & Terri McCloy, Tanna Craigo, Kam Barnette, Patrick Anderson, Robert, Rachel & Sarah White; Christian Walker, John & Patsy Stanley, Lori, Mack & Daney Brookover; Greg, Shannon & Ace Eagle; Jason & Tucker Landis, Steve, Brock & Luke Matson; Steve, Melissa, Michael & Jarrett Lough; Luke Lopez, Brenda & Sammy Brown, Jimmy, Hilary & Joyce Groves; Janice Stump, Mike & Rita Casdorph, Raymon Cunningham, Eduardo & Ellen Goff, Jessie Cox, Dr. Tom Layne, Arden Lantz, Bill Barnette, Donna Spencer, Toby & Christy Scholl, Mrs. Rucker & Children, Jill & Mike McFee, Vernon & Paul Holstine, Todd Games, Tabitha Martin, Dylan Martin, Toby & Denise Hershey, Josie & Clay Eisenhard, Bill Shanklin, Karen Barnette, Crystal, Paige & Johnny Harrison; Karen, Patrick, Everett & Garnet Kish; Sherry Dillard, Rylan & Erin Petry & Grandpa Bird; Krista Baker, Heather, Elliot & Hailey Baria; Juanita Wimmer, Michelle Brotherton, Bob, Terri & Ellie McCloy; Brandi, Trey & Kieren Poff; Kenneth, Kendall & Lucas Allison, Dave Miller, Leslie & Mark Stover; Cardinal Concrete, Atlas Poured Walls, BBU Service, CJ Enterprises, TomKat Construction, Ben’s Bobcat & Backhoe Service, Life Tite Metal Products, Dougherty Company, Bobby Bostic Masonry, Jackson County Community Foundation, Highmark Foundation, Action for Healthy Kids, Sisters of St. Joseph Charitable Funds, McDonough Foundation, Little Kanawha Resources Conservation & Development, Jackson County Home Builders Association, Sayre Excavating, Dairy Queen of Ripley, Blosser Concrete, Francis Brothers, Alpha Delta Chapter of Delta Kappa Gamma, EQT, Boy Scout Pack 419, Floyd Bowlby, Brickstreet Insurance and to all who donated and volunteered, for their generous contribution to the construction."

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