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Public Statements

Executive Session

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, before I talk about the production tax credit which brought me to the floor, I wish to associate myself with the leader's remarks.

I have the great privilege to sit on the Armed Services Committee and the Intelligence Committee. The leader has put his finger on what should be a singular focus on the part of the Senate. We have been warned about the threats in the cyber domain. It is time to act. There are plans that are concrete, focused, and have great support. We should act as soon as we possibly can. I wish to thank the leader for bringing that to our attention.


I rise to talk about a very important issue for the economies of both my State and the entire Nation. That is the future of the wind power industry in the United States and a future that is at risk, I might add, if Congress does not extend the production tax credit for wind. Such inaction jeopardizes U.S. jobs and threatens what is a real bright spot for American manufacturing. Such inaction is not acceptable to the people in my home State of Colorado, nor, I believe, to Americans more broadly.

Many of us know--I think all my colleagues know--that we have seen the wind industry grow by leaps and bounds over the last few years. According to the Wind Energy Industry Association, the industry has attracted an average of over $15 billion annually from 2001 to 2011 in private investment in our wind sector in the United States.

In 2009, that figure was $20 billion, when 10,000 megawatts, the highest annual total to date of wind, was installed. Seventy-five thousand hard-working Americans find good-paying jobs in the wind sector. There are 6,000 of those jobs in Colorado. So I am not unbiased, but when we look around the country, nobody should be unbiased.

Those jobs also have a positive ripple effect on all these communities where they are based. In just over the last 4 years, wind represented 35 percent of all new power capacity in our country, second only to natural gas. With technology advances, wind turbines are now generating 30 percent more electricity per turbine, which means they are producing more energy while driving down cost.

This also means all Americans from the Great Plains to the eastern shores have access to more affordable, reliable, and secure clean energy. That is a win-win. It is little wonder our constituents are demanding we extend the wind production tax credit. I wish to say this industry and the good news that is coming out of it could not have come at a better time for our manufacturing base, which has seen relentlessly tough times over the last few years.

The wind industry is cutting against the grain. It is creating manufacturing jobs at a time when many companies are outsourcing jobs. This chart gives a great picture of what has been happening all over the country. We see every sector of the country where we have wind manufacturing jobs.

At the end of last year, the wind industry included almost 500 manufacturing facilities that employ 30,000 people spanning 43 States. We have wind projects in a vast majority of States--38 out of 50. Last year alone over 100 different wind projects were installed--ranging from a single turbine to over 4,000-megawatt capacity plants.

Back in 2005--7 years ago--we had only five wind turbine manufacturers. But with steady and consistent growth and government policy support and certainty, the number of domestic and international manufacturers grew to 23 at the end of 2011. That is a key factor, the certainty that has been provided that will help this industry continue to grow jobs.

At a time when our economy is still coming back after the 2008 recession, and we are facing stiff competition from other countries, the wind industry is a dynamic example for how we can grow manufacturing jobs and investment in our country. When I started, I mentioned the wind production tax credit, the PTC. It has been a key factor in this growth, central to this young industry--and it is still a very young industry--and its success in America by helping make wind energy more economical, which is still being commercialized.

This critical tax credit expires at the end of this year. Unless we act now in this Congress to extend the wind production tax credit, we risk losing this industry as well as the jobs, the investment and manufacturing base it creates, to our competitors in China, in Europe, and other countries. That is the last result we need in our economy.

I have come to the floor to urge the Congress to keep our country an open marketplace for innovative energy industries and for new investments. The United States is on the cutting edge of renewable energy technologies and on a path to further secure our energy independence. We have to maintain that momentum by passing an extension of the wind production tax credit.

In fact, it is so important--this extension--that I am planning to come to the Senate floor every morning until we get our act together and extend the PTC--not just for Colorado but for every State in our country. I plan to talk about the importance of wind energy in a different State every time I come to the floor. I look forward to talking about the State of the Presiding Officer, the State of Delaware.

I hear every day from Coloradoans who are incredulous that we have not acted to extend this commonsense tax credit. We need to be reminded that American jobs are at stake if we fail to act.

Simply put, if we don't extend the PTC as soon as possible, the wind industry will shrink significantly in 2013. Estimates are that we can lose almost half of the wind-supported jobs, down from 78,000 in 2012 to 41,000 in 2013.

If we fail to extend this tax credit, total wind investment is projected to drop by nearly two-thirds, from $15.6 billion in 2012 to $5.5 billion in 2013. That is simply unacceptable. Luckily, I am not alone in this effort. There is strong bipartisan support in the Senate for the extension of this tax credit. Yes, this is one of those occasions where we are talking about legislation that is supported by Members of both parties.

Senator Grassley, a Republican Senator from Iowa--along with myself and seven other Democrats and Republicans--introduced a bill earlier this year to extend the tax credit. Senator Jerry Moran, a Republican Senator from Kansas, and I led 12 Members from across the country and both sides of the aisle in urging our Senate leadership to work with us to extend the PTC as soon as possible.

We have not seen that happen yet, Mr. President. Instead of addressing this bipartisan proposal which has been a proven job creator, Congress has been caught up in partisan fights. Let's do what Americans are demanding. Let's work together to create jobs and strengthen our economy, as well as our energy security. Let's pass the PTC as soon as possible--ASAP.

I will be back tomorrow, and I will talk more specifically about the importance of the PTC to my home State of Colorado. We are home to thousands of renewable energy jobs, including high-paying manufacturing ones. But that could change literally overnight if the PTC is not extended.

For the good of our economy, I ask all of my colleagues from both sides of the aisle to work with me. Let's work together to get the PTC extended.

I yield the floor.


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