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Public Statements

Clean Energy

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. KAUFMAN. Mr. President, 2 years ago for the first time global investments in clean energy technology exceeded those for fossil fuels. This is clearly a trend that will continue, and a good trend. Unfortunately, America is not keeping up with the clean energy revolution. Today, 90 percent of the market for production of clean energy is outside the United States. We are losing the race to develop those technologies in nearly every market.

Of the top 10 solar panel companies in the world, only 1 is American. Similarly, of the top 10 wind turbine manufacturers, only 1 is American. And of
the top 10 advanced battery manufacturers, only 2 are American.

For decades we have talked about the need to reform our Nation's energy policy. Every President since Franklin Delano Roosevelt has included energy reform in their policy agenda, and in virtually every Congress we passed an energy bill. But these efforts have not been successful in revolutionizing our Nation's energy system because they did not go far enough. Our oil imports have tripled since 1974. Today we rely on fossil fuels to meet 86 percent of our energy needs and we are one of the largest contributors to global carbon pollution.

The truth is simple and unmistakable. If we want to move away from dirty fossil fuels, we need to put a price on carbon pollution and we need to do it now. Putting a price on carbon will reflect the true costs of our energy sources and enable market forces to drive American ingenuity to develop clean energy technologies that will create jobs, enhance U.S. competitiveness, strengthen national security, and cut carbon pollution.

We are in the worst economic recession our country has seen since the Great Depression. We need to invest in sectors of the economy that can create jobs today and then long into the future. Studies have shown that investments in clean energy jobs create more jobs per dollar than fossil fuel-based energy products. These clean energy jobs use American ingenuity to turn Sun and wind into electricity, waste into fuel, and reduce the energy we use to power our homes, businesses, cars, and trucks. These are the sectors that will provide the long-term economic security and job creation we desperately need.

Studies by numerous academic institutions show that by putting a price on carbon, we could create up to 1.7 million net new jobs over the next 10 years. That is 170,000 jobs per year and includes any jobs that may be lost in the transition away from fossil fuels. Many clean energy jobs cannot be shipped overseas. From installing insulation to building offshore wind turbines, these are jobs that can exist only on American soil. The creation of these new clean energy jobs will themselves create a multiplier effect, allow Americans to do more with their income--such as eat out at a restaurant, take a vacation, or buy a home. These activities could add an additional $39 billion to $111 billion boost to the economy. It is clear that investing in clean energy will give us the best bang for the buck by creating more jobs today and for generations to come, paving a long-term sustainable path to economic recovery.

The good news is that we do not have to wait for these clean energy technologies to be developed. We can get started today. Over the last few decades we made great strides in improving green energy technologies. For example, advances in wind energy technology have reduced the cost from 30 cents per kilowatt hour in the early 1980s to less than 5 cents per kilowatt hour today. The Obama administration as well as cities and States across the country have recognized the potential for these technologies. In fact, the energy provisions of the Recovery Act represent the largest single investment in clean energy in American history.

The truth is, as much as that is, it is still not nearly enough. The rest of the world also faces an economic recession, energy insecurity, and carbon pollution, and many countries have also begun to take significant steps to transition to a new clean energy economy, including China.

We have some things in common with China. We each contribute roughly 20 percent of the world's carbon pollution, and we both rely heavily on foreign oil to meet our energy needs. However, China is outpacing the U.S. investments in clean energy. From 2005 to 2009, China's investment in clean energy increased by 148 percent. This surge of financing led China to surpass the United States for the first time last year, spending nearly twice as much on renewable energy technology.

China is now the largest manufacturer of wind turbines and the largest manufacturer of solar panels, 95 percent of which they export to other countries.

My home State of Delaware is a leader in renewable energy development. In fact, we are on the verge of constructing one of the first offshore wind farms in the United States. The project leaders are working hard to make sure that the turbines off the Delaware coast will proudly wear the label ``Made in the U.S.A.''

Today, the average wind tower has 50 percent American-made components. If we want to ensure that 100 percent of future wind and other renewable energy projects are made in America, then we must make it a national priority. Only then will we have the capacity to meet our own rising demands for clean energy.

We must also recognize the fact that our reliance on foreign oil is a serious threat to our national security. The United States imports nearly 60 percent of the oil we use, and 70 percent of the imports come from outside North America. All told, we send $1 billion overseas every day for foreign oil. Some of the nations we buy oil from do not share our interests and may be hostile to the United States or their own people, and some of these nations are unstable, corrupt, and dangerous. Because of this, we send our troops overseas to ensure the secure flow of oil around the world. This stretches our military thin, and puts our troops in harm's way.

Even during times of peace, we have spent $50 billion a year to patrol shipping lanes and secure Middle Eastern oilfields and transport routes. Our dependence on foreign oil also forces us to deal with undemocratic nations in order to protect our interests in oil. It reduces our leverage and forces us to make oil security part of our international diplomatic and military strategies.

Furthermore, because we consume 25 percent of the world's oil, our high demand drives up prices worldwide. So no matter from whom we choose to buy oil, oil-rich nations, some of which are unstable and hostile to the United States, will reap the benefits.

This dependence on oil also leaves us vulnerable to price manipulation by entities such as OPEC, which can influence global oil prices at any time, as they have done so many times in the past. We have the opportunity now to make this right. We can eliminate the threat of foreign oil to our national security by transitioning to a clean energy economy. We can harness American ingenuity and regain our competitive edge in the global markets. We can create hundreds of thousands of new jobs in America for generations to come.

By putting a price on carbon, we will send a signal to investors, industries, manufacturers, and global competitors that the future of the American economy lies in clean energy.

Pricing carbon is the most cost-effective policy tool available to transition the United States away from dirty fossil fuels. It will create incentives for businesses and industry to find low-cost solutions to reduce carbon pollution, and it will send a clear signal that offers predictability in the marketplace. It will allow businesses and investors to finance long-term projects in renewable energy knowing that they are standing on the same common ground as their competitors.

Many of the new clean energy technologies require decades of lead time before they are ready for commercial-scale development. Therefore, it is imperative that we start investing in them immediately. Furthermore, because market barriers exist, we must also provide additional investments such as loan guarantees, grants, tax incentives, and other assistance to encourage early and significant action toward clean energy technology development and deployment.

We can no longer afford to pay for the high cost of a fossil-based economy. Putting a price on carbon will reflect the true costs of our energy sources and enable market forces to drive American ingenuity to develop clean energy technologies. We have the most creative and talented workforce in the world. We can transform our energy system to one that creates jobs and enhances U.S. competitiveness, strengthens national security, and cuts carbon pollution. But we have to take the bull by the horns. Now is the time to chart a new course for the country.

I urge my colleagues to join me and seize this moment.

I yield the floor and I suggest the absence of a quorum.

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