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Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Madam President, I want to acknowledge the powerful and eloquent words of my colleague from Delaware. I know our colleague Senator Collins is also on the Senate floor, and I have to tell the viewers and all of my colleagues I couldn't agree more. The time is now to act on cyber security.
I just came to the floor from an Intelligence Committee briefing. General Alexander was there. As the Senator from Delaware knows, he is forthright, he is well-versed, he is passionate, and he is as nonpartisan as they come. General Alexander is urging us to act now.
So I thank my colleague from Delaware for his compelling and important words.
PRODUCTION TAX CREDIT
The matter that brought me to the floor has a link to cyber security, and that is energy security. I want to talk about one of the new and exciting technologies that is resulting in the production of many homegrown electrons, and that is wind power.
I have come to the floor on a daily basis to urge my colleagues to work with me to extend the production tax credit for wind.
The PTC has created literally tens of thousands of jobs across our country and has the potential to create even more. But if Congress--that is us, the Senate and the House--doesn't act to extend it, tens of thousands of jobs, literally, will be lost. The Presiding Officer has a robust wind energy sector in her State, and she knows the extent to which it is important for business in the great State of New Hampshire. It is important to the businesses in every State in our country.
The production tax credit is an investment in a clean energy future. It is a critical investment in American jobs. Frankly, we are about to lose that investment. I fear, in fact, that through our inaction we continue to create real harm to our wind industry in America. But it is not too late to act.
Today I am going to focus my remarks on Idaho, a State that is known for its wide open spaces, its mountains, its potatoes, and for great, friendly people. One doesn't have to look any further than Senator Crapo and Senator Risch to know that the people of Idaho are very good people.
Idaho is a State with a vast untapped potential for wind energy. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, which we host in Colorado, has calculated that Idaho's wind resources could potentially provide more than 218 percent of Idaho's electricity needs. It ranks 23rd in our Nation's wind resource potential. Most of this potential is in the high plains of the southern half of the State.
Idaho is already working to take advantage of what is a bountiful resource. There are more than 20 separate wind projects either online or under construction across the State. In southeastern Idaho near Twin Falls, Invenergy's Wolverine Creek wind farm covers about 5,000 acres and pays royalties to almost 30 different landowners.
In 2011, Idaho's installed wind capacity grew by nearly 75 percent. That growth created hundreds of temporary construction jobs as well as permanent jobs in the operation and maintenance of these facilities. Right now, Idaho's wind resources provide power for nearly 160,000 homes without releasing the nearly 1.1 million metric tons of carbon dioxide that traditional power sources would.
Wind supports close to 500 jobs in the State of Idaho--jobs that wouldn't exist if the wind industry had not been enticed to invest in Idaho because of the production tax credit, the PTC. Wind energy projects are an investment in local and State economies. Wind energy producers provide nearly $2.5 million to the State in property tax payments every year and over $2 million annually in land lease payments to local Idahoans who go on to invest that money back into their local communities. Those are real dollars these communities count on.
The point I am trying to make is that we in Congress should be working to help create more projects like Wolverine Creek for the jobs and the clean energy they create. Instead, Congress is standing idly by.
I can't help but mention there have been some on the campaign trail who have suggested that we should let the wind production tax credit lapse at the end of this year, and that wind power should not be given the same help other industries have received. I could not disagree more.
Great States such as Idaho, Colorado, and New Hampshire make things. Great countries such as the United States generate their own energy. Letting the wind production tax credit lapse would be irresponsible. The PTC equals jobs. We should pass it as soon as possible. We should not waiver, and we should not wait. Every day that we let this unanswered question hang over our country may be another project and another job that gets shipped overseas.
I urge my colleagues to work with me to support manufacturing in rural communities in America. Let's extend the production tax credit as soon as possible. It is common sense. It has bipartisan support. Let's extend the production tax credit.
I will be back tomorrow to continue this discussion and talk about another one of our great States. I am at 13 States. I am going to keep coming back until we get this right.
Madam President, I yield the floor.
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