By Senator Mark Udall
As Congress goes back to work this week, I'm renewing my call to extend the critical renewable energy tax credits, like the production tax credit for wind, set to expire at the end of 2012. In these tough budget times, we owe it to taxpayers to enact policies that have the greatest potential return on investment and can create good-paying American jobs. Renewable energy tax credits make sense for Colorado and America's bottom line -- and that's why I support them.
With the wind on the Eastern Plains, the sun in the San Luis Valley and the brainpower at our top-notch universities, Colorado is positioned to lead the world in renewable energy production. But in order to win the global economic race, we must ensure that American industry has the support it needs.
While in Northern Colorado last week, I had the opportunity to visit with workers at the Vestas wind-turbine manufacturing facility in Brighton -- one of four Vestas facilities in Colorado. They told me that last year Vestas posted one of its best years on record in North America, but failing to extend the production tax credit for wind will put further growth into question, jeopardizing the industry and Colorado jobs.
The U.S. is among the largest manufacturers in the world -- outpaced only by China. According to a recent New York Times article, "manufacturing stands out as an area of strength in the American economy" -- adding jobs over the past two years. The renewable energy industry sector is no exception.
Like the automobile or the first man on the moon, the next innovation that drives our global leadership can be clean energy, but the U.S. faces stiff competition from countries where the cost of labor is significantly cheaper. More importantly, countries such as China and Germany are investing heavily to grow their renewable energy manufacturing base, and we can't afford to fall behind.
Growth in American manufacturing is a key factor that has kept our slow recovery from becoming a double-dip recession -- we can't afford to take our foot off of the accelerator. We need to seize this moment, put our brainpower and resources to work, and awaken the American spirit that has always made our country great. Congress must extend critical renewable energy tax credits.