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Mr. GARDNER. I thank the gentleman from North Dakota. And I'm excited about the opportunity that we have in this country in a bright energy future. I can think of few areas that have held so much promise for job creation, for a new opportunity to impact so many areas of our economy as energy. And it really is energy policies that we're discussing this week that could create over a million jobs around the country, and the policies that we continue to pursue in committee meetings, through legislation and the work that we do to help bring a brighter energy future to this country.
And I'm pleased that the gentleman from North Dakota is leading today's discussion on energy. You know, I've actually seen in my district the benefits of the Bakken Development in Colorado.
Sixty miles away from my hometown is a brand-new business that located in Colorado because of so much activity in North Dakota. They were actually seeing so many people working in North Dakota that they moved to Colorado to expand their operation because they couldn't find enough people to work in North Dakota.
So they moved to my district to create jobs, and they're hiring. They're manufacturing. They've bought a manufacturing business because of energy development in North Dakota.
But the energy success in Colorado isn't reliant on other States around us because we have it in our State as well. In my district, the Fourth Congressional District, it is truly an all-of-the-above energy district. Not only do we have a coal mine in the Fourth Congressional District, but we have wind manufacturing, we have wind turbine manufacturing, wind blade manufacturing, we have solar manufacturing. We have biofuels and are home to one of the Nation's premier oil and gas plays anywhere in the world, the Niobrara shale play.
In fact, in Colorado, over 100,000 people are directly employed or indirectly employed by the oil and gas industry. The average pay of a worker in the oil and gas fields of Colorado is almost $100,000 a year. Average pay of almost $100,000 a year, with benefits. People are able to stay in their home towns to have jobs that they never thought were possible just a decade ago.
I come from a very small town in eastern Colorado; 3,000 people, 67 kids graduated in my high school class. And I can tell you, when I graduated there are only two or three of us that stayed there to work in our hometown. Everybody else moved away to find work elsewhere because they couldn't find work in that small, eastern plains community.
But thanks to natural gas development, thanks to the development that's taken place around the State, they're moving back, they're bringing their families back. They're actually finding those high-paying jobs with good health care benefits, and they're building our communities and making stronger places to live for themselves and their families; $10.2 billion in labor contributions, and contribution to the labor force as a result of oil and gas development in Colorado alone.
In Weld County, we've seen the impacts firsthand of what it means to have an all-of-the-above energy policy. Just two of the over-30 oil and gas companies that are operating in Weld County, just last month paid their 2011 property taxes. These two companies paid a combined property tax to Weld County alone of $150 million. Two checks, $150 million to one county; 40 percent of that $150 million went to the school districts and the community college. That's money that we're investing into the next generation of workforce in this country. That's money that is building a stronger education future for our children.
But it's also developing affordable energy opportunities for this country; and so I hope that as people participate in this discussion around the United States, that they go to Twitter and send their suggestions on energy affordability with the #affordable energy, #affordable energy to participate in a discussion about the future of energy in our country.
And so, Mr. Speaker, I think the opportunity that we have, really, today is to join a discussion about what we're going to look like as a Nation, how to encourage manufacturing, how to encourage new job creation, how to bring companies back to the United States who've left because of the cost of doing business. They can now afford to do business here because of our energy production and energy opportunity.
So join us at #affordable energy on Twitter, and I just appreciate your leadership and the opportunity to be here with you today.
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