AJCongress Thanks Senator Jeff Bingaman for Leadership
in Passing U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Act
Left to right: Matthew Mark Horn, Jack Halpern, Senator Jeff Bingaman, Neil B. Goldstein
Washington, D.C. December 19, 2007 — American Jewish Congress National Policy Director Matthew Mark Horn, Energy Independence Task Force Chair Jack Halpern, and Executive Director Neil B. Goldstein thank Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Senator Jeff Bingaman (D, NM) for his leadership role in the successful passing of the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Act (USIECA), which aims to reduce American dependence on foreign oil. Halpern and Goldstein were in Washington at the invitation of the White House to participate in the Presidential signing of the bill.
According to Halpern, “This important legislation could not have passed without Senator Bingaman’s leadership and the work of other Senate and House sponsors.”
“Moreover, AJCongress could not have succeeded in getting passage alone,” added Halpern. “We have to thank groups including AIPAC, JCPA and especially NORPAC that also supported the bill and that in NORPAC’s case made USIECA a major priority.”
“We take extraordinary pride in the success of this bill because of the many years we put into the effort for its enactment, beginning with our conceptualization of the measure in 2003, through lobbying for the measure for the past four years,” Halpern added. USIECA represents a crucial step for helping the United States and other industrialized nations reduce dependence on imported oil by working together with Israel’s brilliant scientists and engineers to help devise alternative energy technologies.”
“AJCongress was the first American Jewish organization to endorse the principle of energy independence and our work towards that goal remains a top priority,” Halpern added.
“U.S.-Israel collaboration has led to a breakthrough for missile defense in the form of the Arrow anti-missile and for the more-recent development of the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, or MRAPs, to protect U.S. soldiers in Iraq. In a similar way, USIECA means that U.S.-Israel collaboration will lead to new breakthroughs in energy technology,” predicted Goldstein. “Israeli skills in solar energy can help produce hydrogen fuel; their skills in biotechnology can improve the conversion of cellulosic waste into ethanol and methanol; and their skills in chemistry, engineering and nanotechnology can improve the efficiency of fuel cells − to name just a few of the areas where Israeli scientists and engineers excel.” “Moreover,” added Goldstein, “in an era when some groups are trying to isolate Israel’s academic community, this measure will help build bridges between Israeli academicians and the U.S.”
Mr. Horn explained that the U.S.-Israel Energy Cooperation Act had been introduced as a separate bill by a bipartisan coalition led in the House by Representative Brad Sherman (D-CA) and John Shadegg (R-AZ) and in the Senate by Chairman Bingaman (D-NM) and Gordon Smith (R-OR). As the 2007 legislative year progressed, the bill was incorporated in comprehensive energy legislation in the House through the work of the bill’s sponsors, their staffs and the efforts of Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Anthony Weiner (D-NY); and more recently it was incorporated in the Senate version of the comprehensive energy bill through the efforts of the Senate sponsors and their staffs. The free-standing version was cosponsored by more than 100 House members and more than a dozen Senators.
The conceptual need for USIECA was an outgrowth of discussions between Israeli and U.S. scientists, engineers, academicians and business leaders at a conference in Jerusalem in August, 2003 under the auspices of the American Jewish Congress. The conference was co-hosted by the Israel Ministry for National Infrastructures and by the U.S. Department of Energy. USIECA establishes a multi-year program of grants for joint projects at the basic research level between U.S. and Israeli academic institutions, and at the applied research and development level between U.S. and Israeli companies. The program will be administered by the U.S. Secretary of Energy.