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Public Statements

Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012

Floor Speech

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Madam President, I rise again this morning, as I have for a number of months, to talk about the most important issue facing the American people and this Congress, and that is jobs.

A good news story on the jobs front has been our wind energy industry. The wind energy industry has created thousands of good-paying jobs, and it could create thousands more. But the troubling news that goes along with the good news is that the potentially bright future of this industry is uncertain. Why? Because we in the Congress are holding the wind energy industry hostage because we have failed to extend the production tax credit.

As I have said every day I have been on the Senate floor since June to discuss this topic, every day that we fail to extend the PTC for wind energy more jobs are put at risk. We have seen this unfortunate reality unfold across the country as predicted, including in my home State of Colorado, where over 100 people have lost their jobs. I don't have to tell my colleagues that when people lose jobs, those job losses negatively affect families and the communities where they live.

Just yesterday--it breaks my heart--Siemens Energy announced they are going to lay off more than 600 people in Iowa, Kansas, and Florida. Enough is enough. These layoffs that continue to be announced almost weekly should spur us to extend the wind production tax credit without any further delay.

Jobs are at stake. It is that simple. With many Americans already losing their jobs, more jobs are at risk--thousands, literally--if we don't act.

Here is my question: Why would we forfeit leadership in an industry that is poised to grow even further? There is no reason we should cede leadership of this important industry to China or anywhere else by letting the production tax credit expire. If we commit to extending the PTC, we will then lead the world in wind power, and here is a part of why I come to the floor every day and talk about particular States.

There are few places that is more apparent than in Wyoming. Wyoming has phenomenal wind reserves. If you have driven through Wyoming, you know what I am talking about. If you talk to anybody from Wyoming, they will always ironically say: One of the things we have in excess in Wyoming is wind.

The National Global Energy Lab based in Colorado estimates that Wyoming has enough wind power potential to meet 116 times the State's energy needs. To put it another way, that is 25 million homes that would be powered by harnessing wind.

Wyoming is well on its way to harnessing its wind potential. Why? Although it ranks 11th in the Nation for installed wind power--which is not a shabby number, frankly--there are plans to nearly quadruple the amount of wind power in the State of Wyoming. Not only would that create thousands of jobs--that goes without saying--it would produce enough electricity to power 1.5 million homes. The construction of those projects will create hundreds of nicely paying renewable energy jobs right in the State of Wyoming.

It is no wonder then that the massive wind potential in Wyoming has also attracted investment for manufacturers. To make that point, I want to share a development with you.

Last year a plan to build the first wind energy manufacturing facility in Wyoming was announced. It was a joint venture between the Spanish wind manufacturer Gestamp and an Ohio-based company called Worthington Industries. They formed a conglomerate called Gestamp Worthington Wind Steel. The companies announced they would build a facility in Cheyenne, WY, and there would be 150 good-paying jobs attached to that facility. They planned to invest $40 million in the plant. But here is the twist: That project has now been put on hold. Those jobs and the millions in investment that were planned to be directed into Wyoming have been shelved.

This isn't an isolated incident. There are wind manufacturing facilities and wind projects across the country where we are seeing exactly the same thing happening, and the reason is clear: uncertainty over the future of the production tax credit. So our inaction in the Congress is putting good-paying American jobs at risk and reducing opportunities for further investments in this growing industry. There is just no reason for it. The PTC has strong support from both sides of the aisle and from both Houses of the Congress. Of course, a broad array of groups in the private sector support the wind energy industry.

Yesterday, a group of businesses from across the country wrote to leaders in the House and the Senate urging us to bring up and pass an extension of the PTC as soon as possible. Businesses such as Starbucks and Levi's joined a diverse group of companies, including Colorado's own Aspen Skiing Company and New Belgium Brewery, in urging us in the Congress to work across the divide, work across the aisle, and extend the PTC. These companies understand how positive the production tax credit and our wind industry has been for jobs, national security, and our clean energy economy. They made that case yesterday in their letter.

I ask unanimous consent to have printed in the Record a copy of this letter.

There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the RECORD,

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Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Madam President, as I conclude I want to remind us that in August, before we adjourned for our month's State work period, our Senate Finance Committee passed legislation that would include an extension of the production tax credit. I was encouraged to see that the committee bridged the partisan divide to advance what is really and truly a commonsense policy that will help our American economy and our middle class.

We should build on what the Finance Committee did and take up and pass this legislation as soon as possible. The longer we delay, the more jobs we put at risk and the more our economic recovery is at risk.

It is very simple: The production tax credit equals jobs. We should pass it as soon as possible. So, my colleagues, let's work together. Let's find a path forward, and let's pass this critical tax credit as soon as possible.

Madam President, I yield the floor, and I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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