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Public Statements

Disclose Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, I rise today, as I have been every day, to urge my colleagues to work with me and to work with the Presiding Officer to extend the production tax credit for wind. The PTC, as it is known, has broad economic effects, positive effects all across our great country.

I am going to talk today, as I have each day, about an individual State that is known for its wind resources, and today that is the great State of Kansas. Kansas is already known as a national leader in both wind manufacturing and production. In fact, Kansas has the most wind projects under construction, as we sit here today, and is on track to almost double their installed wind energy capacity.

We can see from this map of Kansas that there is a lot of activity. For example, there is construction currently underway in what will be the largest wind farm in Kansas, which is located just southwest of Wichita, in south central Kansas. The Flat Ridge 2 Wind Farm will cover about 66,000 acres, and it should be up and running by the end of the year.

The two companies running the project--BP Wind Energy and Sempra U.S. Gas & Power--have invested over $800 million and have employed 500 construction workers. Those are impressive numbers wherever you might find them. But that is not all. Once this project is done and operating, the local community should receive over $1 million annually in tax payments from the project. There are some 200 property owners who own the land under the turbines, and they will receive a similar amount in royalty payments. That is real money for real Americans, all thanks to wind energy and the production tax credit.

These are jobs and investments that are created here at home, and they create good-paying jobs in Kansas, helping the local economy and providing critical income for rural communities. I have to say this is especially important as the drought takes a steep toll on farmers across the Midwest this year. Wind power, if you think about it, is a cash crop that always ripens and always returns the investment in the marketplace.

This is just one project in Kansas that isn't even completed yet, so let me talk about the overall effect of wind energy in Kansas.

The wind energy industry in Kansas supports 3,000 jobs, it results in $3.7 million in property taxes from wind projects that go to local communities, and 8 percent of Kansas's power comes from wind. Those are impressive numbers, and they would only grow as Kansas invests.

There are thousands of Kansas wind energy jobs supporting millions of dollars of local tax revenue and, as I pointed out here, almost one-tenth of Kansas's total power needs. This harnessing of the wind has truly become an

economic driver, and it presents enormous opportunity for this important Midwestern State.

I would like to focus on one county. Lane County's economic development operation is headed up by Dan Hartman. Dan moved to western Kansas 5 years ago, in large part because he wanted to live in the heart of rural America, but he also wanted to help create a better, more secure energy future for America, with Kansas playing a central role. Since then, Dan has been working with counties, farmers, and landowners to bring as much wind energy as possible to western Kansas, and I think those possibilities are almost unlimited because there is enough potential wind power in Kansas to meet the needs of Kansas some 90 times over.

That brings me to the point I wish to make today, and it is why I keep coming to the floor. The uncertainty we have created by failing to extend the wind production tax credit, unfortunately, has sidelined roughly $3.5 billion in wind energy investments. That just defies common sense. Back home in my State of Colorado, I keep hearing from my fellow Coloradans: Why the heck aren't you in Congress working to save wind energy jobs right now? To Dan Hartman, the solution seems simple, and I want to quote him. He said:

I look at the wind energy industry as a matter of survival and our future in Kansas. If we don't extend the PTC, we're throwing away our future. We need it badly. If you really look at the money, the PTC cost is dwarfed by the capital investment it encourages.

Dan has it right, and we should listen here in the Congress. If we refuse to develop our wind energy resources, there are a lot of countries that are willing to outcompete us--take China, for example. We have to work to keep these jobs and that investment here in the United States, and that is why the Congress must extend the production tax credit as soon as possible.

Mr. President, you also know we have bipartisan support. This isn't solely a Republican or a Democratic issue. Senator Moran from Kansas, my good friend, has joined me and others to make this happen. We have offered an amendment to the bipartisan small business lending bill that would extend the PTC by 2 years, until the end of 2014.

We need the PTC. It equals jobs. We need to pass it as soon as possible. I want to ask my colleagues again, as I have every day, to join Senator Moran, Senator Udall of New Mexico, Senator Thune, and others to help pass this much needed, commonsense, bipartisan amendment or find another way to extend the PTC to ensure that more investment and more jobs in States such as Kansas, Colorado, and others all across our country will be the result.

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