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Public Statements

Statements on Introduced Bills and Joint Resolutions

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, today I am introducing a bipartisan bill along with my colleague Senator Collins to help improve the health and efficiency of our schools by making them more energy efficient, while creating much-needed jobs in the process. Though it is often over-looked, energy efficiency is a huge job creator. Not only does it create jobs through the purchase and installation of efficient materials, it frees up scarce school finances to retain teachers and important programs.

There are numerous Federal programs and funds already available to schools to help them become more energy efficient. However, as I learned in my travels across Colorado, schools face a morass of programs and agency offices across the government, and it is challenging for schools to take full advantage of them.

The bipartisan Streamlining Energy Efficiency for Schools Act of 2011 will force the government to coordinate their efforts so that schools are less confused and they can better navigate the existing Federal programs and financing options available to them. Put simply, it will streamline the Federal Government while still leaving decisions to the States, school boards and local officials to determine what is best for their schools.

I have seen the benefits of energy efficient buildings first hand when traveling in Colorado. The Cherry Creek School District in Greenwood Village, Colorado has incorporated day lighting techniques and ice storage to cool the buildings during the day. Because of these innovative improvements, the school district has enjoyed significant cost savings. In another example, the Poudre School District in Fort Collins, Colorado, actively promotes sustainable design guidelines, calling it their ``Ethic of Sustainability.'' This program includes an elementary school in Fort Collins that actually uses recycled blue jeans as insulation for the school buildings.

I hope that in passing this bill we will see more examples of these successful and creative projects across the country--projects that will increase the efficiency of our schools and teach our students about the importance of saving energy. I urge my colleagues--of both parties--to join me in supporting this bipartisan legislation.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.

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Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, I rise today to speak about the Renewable Energy Market Access Program Act, or REMAP Act, which I am re-introducing in the 112th Congress with my colleagues, Senators Stabenow and Merkley. This bill is designed to help grow American renewable energy and energy efficiency exports abroad by helping small and medium sized renewable energy businesses promote, export and ultimately penetrate foreign markets. In turn this bill will help grow the American economy and create American jobs.

This effort is a smaller piece of what needs to be a comprehensive and cohesive approach to reduce our trade deficit in clean energy goods and bolster our economy. Despite efforts to do just that, we still struggle to build a manufacturing base that can provide the goods necessary to meet the global demand for renewable energy products. It is astonishing that increasingly, we import more renewable energy goods than we export. A recent Senate report showed that over a 5 year period from 2004-2008, our trade deficit in renewable energy goods increased 350 percent, which is attributed to increased U.S. demand that is met largely by imports from Asia and Europe. Not only are we failing to meet our own domestic demand, but we are slow to take advantage of market opportunities abroad. It is estimated that 90 percent of worldwide investments in renewable energy goods occur in G-20 countries, and the developing world is projected to comprise 80 percent of the world's future energy demand, yet the United States is not well positioned to capture these growing and burgeoning markets for renewable energy goods. If we are truly dedicated to strengthening our capability to grow renewable energy manufacturing and to becoming energy independent, we need to do more. We need to invest strategically at home, and we must also look beyond our shores to build markets for domestic manufacturers markets that can translate into sustainable, well-paying jobs here at home.

My legislation would create the Renewable Energy Market Access Program to focus on equipping small and medium sized enterprises with the tools they need to access foreign markets, thereby strengthening our domestic economy and creating jobs. Through REMAP, trade associations and state-regional trade groups would apply to the U.S. Department of Commerce to enter into cooperative agreements to provide marketing and trade assistance to small- and medium-sized companies in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors. The assistance would help facilitate the export of their goods to existing and new foreign markets. The agreements would also offer eligible participants an opportunity to share the costs related to innovative marketing and promotion activities. The public funding for any one application would never exceed 50 percent of the total cost of the proposal, ensuring buy-in from the applicant and an ongoing working relationship with the Department of Commerce. In sum, this bill will help streamline access to the global marketplace for small businesses and help promote American renewable energy and energy efficiency products overseas.

I believe that this legislation takes an important step in the right direction to support the growing renewable energy industry. I have been encouraged by the efforts of my colleagues here in the U.S. Congress and in the Administration to place a strong emphasis on supporting and growing all of America's exports but our future will be in solving our shared energy challenges.

While we look at ways to enhance market access to foreign markets, Congress must also develop sensible policy mechanisms to address unfair trade barriers and other anti-competitive tactics that are used to keep our goods from markets in countries with which we have stable relations. Such tactics should be addressed, but should not keep us from pursuing other opportunities to build foreign markets for American businesses. This is why I urge my colleagues to join me in supporting this legislation to support our small business community in growing our nation's economy.

Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent that the text of the bill be printed in the Record.

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