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Flood Insurance Reform and Modernization Act--Motion to Proceed--Resumed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, good morning to you. Good morning to my colleagues.


I am here again on the Senate floor to urge all of my colleagues to vote for an extension of the production tax credit for wind energy, otherwise known as the PTC.

Today, as I have been doing, I will focus on an individual State. I am going to look at the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and show all of us the promise it holds as a wind energy manufacturing hub, as well as the negative effects that will occur if we do not extend the production tax credit.

Pennsylvania has a strong blue-collar background and an extraordinary number of highly skilled workers. With those factors, those positive elements in Pennsylvania, it has seamlessly transitioned into a wind energy powerhouse.

Look at this map I have in the Chamber of the State of Pennsylvania. You will see, from Philadelphia to Rockwood, from Pittsburgh to Scranton, there are wind projects all over the State. Those wind projects have created good-paying jobs and stability for Pennsylvania families.

Pennsylvania, as I have alluded to, has long been a center of manufacturing in the United States, and the wind industry has taken note.

You can see these green circles on this map. Each one of those indicates a manufacturing facility that makes parts for wind turbines in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. That represents over 20 plants and hundreds of employees in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

I would suggest that the State of Pennsylvania is only beginning to realize its potential when it comes to the wind energy industry.

My colleagues know I have been on the Senate floor talking about the economic benefits of wind energy. I want to highlight what has happened in Pennsylvania.

If we look at this chart, in Pennsylvania, the wind energy industry supports 4,000 jobs. There are 180,000 homes that are powered by wind, and there is a conservative $1.4 million in property taxes from wind projects that go to local communities.

So this is an important set of numbers. It is money, particularly on the tax side, that helps local communities pay for basic services, and it is critical in this time of decreasing local and State budgets.

If we think about it, all of these figures--the jobs, the revenues, the investments--are prime for significant growth going forward. But that future and that growth are going to be threatened unless we act, unless the Congress acts to extend the production tax credit.

Just last week, Gamesa--which is a global leader in the manufacturing of wind turbines--announced it is ending the development of the Shaffer Mountain Wind Farm, which is in northeastern Somerset County. This project would have ultimately ended up with 30 new wind turbines, and it was planned to come online in 2013. That is just 6 months from now. But because of the uncertainty tied to Federal policies, such as the production tax credit, Gamesa has sidelined this project.

In short, our inaction is costing this community jobs, this Commonwealth of Pennsylvania jobs. It does not make any sense in the current economic environment we now face and as our Nation is desperately focused on becoming more energy independent.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette made the point that this is the third wind project under development that has been stopped--all in the last month--just because of the uncertainty we have created here by not extending the PTC. These are on-the-ground examples of how congressional inaction is costing American jobs and investment.

I know the Acting President pro tempore knows this is not a partisan or regional issue. There is strong bipartisan support for extending the production tax credit, and the wind industry has a presence in almost every single State in our country. So if we look at the overall picture, this is not the time for companies such as Gamesa to grow, reluctant to invest in the future. So we have to expand the PTC. It will incent this industry to continue its rapid growth, and it will build a strong foundation for a 21st-century clean energy economy.

So I am again on the floor urging my colleagues to work with me to extend the wind production tax credit as soon as possible.

As I close, I want to highlight an event that is on Capitol Hill today where Members, staff, and others can learn more about the potential of wind energy, as well as other types of renewable and energy-efficient technology.

That event is the 15th Annual Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency EXPO. It is underway all day in the Cannon Caucus Room on the House side.

The bipartisan Senate Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus, which I cochair along with Senators Lieberman and Crapo, is an honorary cohost of the event. I encourage all of us to go over there, look at the technologies. They are awe inspiring. They are awesome. They are truly the future. When we implement policies that will help these technologies penetrate all of these various markets, we are going to continue to be a leader in the clean energy economy.

So I will be back next week to talk about the wind production tax credit. I will be here every day until we pass it and extend it.

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


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