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Public Statements

Extension of Renewable Energy Tax Incentives

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. CONNOLLY of Virginia. Mr. Speaker, this Congress' failure to extend renewable energy tax credits is already costing my home State, the Commonwealth of Virginia, jobs. As CBS News reported last month, Virginia is losing a wind turbine development to Spain because the United States doesn't have the right policies and tax incentives in place for renewable energy development. A spokesperson for the wind energy company Gamesa said that the uncertainty over the future of those tax credits for wind energy and the lack of Federal energy policy caused the company to invest in Spain instead of Virginia. The jobs to construct and maintain that turbine will be Spanish, not American.

The so-called Strategic Energy Production Act, coming to the House floor this week, actually perpetuates the problem by doubling down on oil and gas to the detriment of developing new and renewable energy sources in America. Even the Republican Governor of Virginia said that the lack of a national energy policy was one of the reasons we aren't moving forward with this project in America. President Obama has called on Congress to pass a ``clean energy standard'' that would guarantee a market for wind, solar, and other clean domestic energy sources. That legislation has not received any consideration in this House.

The House Republican leadership won't even bring legislation to the floor to extend critical renewable tax credits for wind and solar energy. Republicans consider it anathema to even suggest that they reconsider special oil and gas company tax breaks in the face of record industry profits. Yet while the extension of renewable energy tax credits would encourage the development of an innovative industry that would support America's energy independence, they allow it to wither. In fact, House Republicans actually attacked the renewable energy sector through a number of different amendments to the Energy and Water appropriations bill earlier this month.

As part of the Recovery Act, Congress and the President extended production and investment tax credits for the production of wind and solar energy. As a result of those investments, wind energy electricity generation has grown by 40,000 megawatts in the last 2 years. Between 2007 and 2010, wind energy represented 35 percent of all new electricity generation in America. Solar energy production in America more than doubled in that time period.

Approximately 173,000 Americans work now in the wind and solar industries, with 70 percent growth in the number of wind energy jobs since 2007. What other industry can we point to that has seen that kind of significant job growth? In fact, the growth in renewable energy jobs has helped offset job losses in the coal industry, which has been declining for many years. As the Nation continues to recover, and as monthly job growth moderates, it is essential to support innovative American industries, such as wind and solar, with extensive growth potential.

Wind and solar electricity generation creates American jobs throughout the supply chain. For example, Micron is a semiconductor manufacturer in my district whose components are used in solar installations. The value of solar installations completed in 2011 was $8.4 billion. Thanks to Buy American provisions and other domestic manufacturing programs in the Recovery Act, we're increasing the share of wind energy components manufactured in America. Over 470 factories in the United States now build components for wind turbines. But as tax incentives expire, where will that future growth go?

In the global hunt for scarce resources, the renewable energy industry will not just be a job creator, though it will create jobs. It will also help support national security. If America is not at the forefront of this burgeoning field, then we will be left behind as global competitors seize that initiative.

Unfortunately, all of this economic growth is at risk as the Republican House leadership ignores renewable energy tax credit extensions. Failure to extend the production and investment tax credits for renewable energy will mean losing projects across the country. As our loss of a wind facility in Virginia demonstrates, Mr. Speaker, the failure to extend these tax credits in a timely manner already is hurting what would otherwise continue to be a growth industry.

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