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Veterans Jobs Corps Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Madam President, as I begin to talk this morning about the wind production tax credit, I think we all know that tax credits have encouraged our wind industry to invest in that great, new, cutting-edge form of power, and that has resulted in the creation of thousands of American jobs and wind projects all over our country. Forty-eight States have a stake in our wind energy industry. But the production tax credit that has driven this investment in American manufacturing and job creation is about to expire at the end of this year.

I have been coming to the floor on an ongoing basis to make the case that we ought to extend the wind production tax credit as soon as possible.

I know the Acting President pro tempore has been here on a couple of occasions when I have spoken about this issue before. In fact, this is the 14th time I have come to the floor to speak to this important opportunity but also the peril that awaits us if we do not extend the wind production tax credit. The key here is that we have created uncertainty. The wind energy industry is beginning to back off investments for next year. They need certainty. They need predictability.

I have come to the floor today to talk, as I have been on each occasion, about a particular State and that State's contribution to the wind industry. Today I want to talk about North Dakota. It is a State with enough wind energy potential that it could meet more than 240 times its own electricity needs--240 times its own electricity needs. In fact, we know North Dakota sits in an ocean of wind, and it could power much of the Midwest if we could get that electricity to the city centers that need it, and if we keep the wind production tax credit in place.

What I want to talk about in particular in North Dakota are a couple of manufacturing facilities there. In the late 1990s, LM Glasfiber opened a facility in Grand Forks, which is in eastern North Dakota, close to the border of Minnesota, as shown on this map. They produce wind turbine blades there. And just a few years ago, DMI Industries--a company that manufactures the towers--opened a factory in West Fargo. That is also in eastern North Dakota. It is south of Grand Forks, over here, as shown on this map, on the Minnesota border as well.

These wind turbines--and the Acting President pro tempore knows this--are magnificent machines. They sit on towers that in some cases are 100 meters tall. The wind blades themselves are like aircraft wings. The cell that sits on the top of the towers, where the gear box and all the technology is--these are very technical, very complicated, very sophisticated machines, and manufacturing them brings out American greatness. The point I am making is these are two important facilities in North Dakota.

I also want to talk about the leadership that exists in North Dakota when it comes to wind energy. I want to start with our colleague, Senator Conrad. He has been a proponent of the production tax credit for over a decade. His reasoning is that this is a great opportunity for North Dakota, as well as for the country, and the wind production tax credit creates certainty.

His colleague Senator Hoeven has also taken up the cause during his first term in the Senate.

One of the key points I want to make here is those two Senators are from two political parties. Yet they each support the wind production tax credit. Last month, North Dakota hosted a renewable action energy summit in Bismarck, and both Senator Conrad and Senator Hoeven attended. During this summit national leaders talked about how North Dakota's robust and diverse energy sector has provided the model for creating jobs and helping reduce our Nation's dependence on foreign oil.

I have to say this strikes me as the most intelligent kind of policy. It is a mix of traditional energy sources with sustainable energy such as wind. What you get from that is advanced technology. You have certainty for developers. You spur investment. You create jobs. I applaud North Dakota's leadership in putting in place a smart energy policy, an all-of-the-above energy policy, as well as our colleagues' work on this subject.

The point I am making is that North Dakota recognizes investment in wind energy is an investment in jobs. Some of those numbers make that point. Some 2,000 jobs in North Dakota are supported by the wind energy industry. Those jobs are there no doubt because of the existence of a tax credit. I would add that the tax credit is a production tax credit. So you produce the power and then you get the tax credit. This is not speculative. This is not hoping that something will happen. This is based on production of electrons. That is why it is such a powerful tool. It has been used in the past, by the way, in other energy sectors. You produce power, you produce energy, you are rewarded with an energy tax credit.

Besides jobs, the wind industry provides $4 million annually in property tax and land lease payments that go to supporting local communities and vital services tied to those communities. Where does North Dakota rank nationally? Well, they rank 10th in terms of installed wind capacity, and third in the Nation in percentage of electricity derived from wind, with almost 15 percent of their entire power supply coming from wind energy projects. That is the equivalent in North Dakota of 430,000 homes being powered by wind.

That number--I know this is important to the Presiding Officer--equals about 3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide that are not released into our atmosphere every year. It is simple: The wind industry is important to America's future and it should be incented in communities that can support it, such as in North Dakota.

The wind production tax credit is that incentive. Without a doubt, if the PTC is allowed to expire, this important American industry will shrink, move overseas, and take thousands of American jobs with it. So as I have done when I come to the floor, I am imploring our colleagues to work with me, to work with us to stop this possibility from becoming a reality. Wind energy is not a partisan issue.

As I have noted, many of our colleagues agree with me, whether they are on this side of the aisle or the other side of the aisle. They understand if we do not extend the PTC we risk losing thousands of jobs and crippling a very important, successful, existing industry. So it would be a decision that we would all regret for a long time if we let the PTC expire.

As I close, I again implore and urge my colleagues to work on this together. If we believe in energy independence and job creation, as we say, then we need to work together. Let's show Americans that we understand the economy is job one. One of the ways we can create new jobs is to extend the wind production tax credit. One of the ways we lose jobs is if we let the wind production tax credit expire. So we ought to be passing the PTC as soon as possible.

The production tax credit equals jobs. It is crucial to our future. Let's not let the wind production tax credit be a casualty of election year partisanship. We cannot--America cannot--afford it.

I yield the floor.


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