One of the best ways to spur economic growth and create new jobs is by investing in new energy technologies. Kentucky has long been an energy leader and I have worked to enact policies which utilize resources we have right in our own backyard, including coal, while lowering costs for consumers.
Coal continues to be one of the Commonwealth's most abundant natural resources. Kentucky generates 92% of its electricity from coal and the industry directly employs more than 17,000 people across the state. I have used my position on the House Energy and Commerce Committee to advocate for the advancement of carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) technologies which will allow coal to be used in a more environmentally friendly manner. Eliminating coal from our nation's energy portfolio is simply not an option and I will continue to do all that I can to ensure our ability to use this valuable Kentucky resource.
In addition to coal, western Kentucky also harnesses nuclear technologies. The Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant is the nation's only uranium enrichment plant and has helped provide for our nation's energy and defense needs for the past fifty years. The enriched uranium fuel from the Paducah Plant helps power our nation's commercial nuclear power plants. I have introduced legislation that could help keep the plant in Paducah open and running past its expected closure date. This could not only keep Kentuckians working, but provide for the sale of waste materials that could yield the government billions of dollars in revenue.
Kentucky has also proven itself to be a leader in the development and use of hydropower, biodiesel and ethanol. The First District is home to the state's only ethanol plant, the Commonwealth Agri Energy Ethanol plant in Hopkinsville. Each year millions of bushels of corn are used to produce over 30 million gallons of ethanol.
President Obama, Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Reid have tried to enact sweeping climate change legislation which would have a devastating impact on Kentucky's energy sector. I opposed this proposal because it will not only be a giant blow to the Commonwealth's coal industry, which employs thousands of people and generates millions of dollars for local economies, but it will force Kentuckians already reeling from the economic recession to foot the bill through higher energy costs. I will continue to fight against the implementation of a cap and trade system and do all that I can to propel our state into becoming the leader in energy development for our nation.