Continuing his trade mission in New Zealand today, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) inspected the Mokai Geothermal Power Station in Taupo, New Zealand. The Mokai facility is New Zealand's largest privately-developed geothermal project and is managed jointly by the state-owned Mighty River Power Company and the Tuaropaki Power Company, which is owned by the indigenous Maori people.
"Like the United States, New Zealand clearly sees the value in home-grown energy. The Mokai Geothermal plant is an outstanding renewable energy project, similar to many of the facilities we have back in the States. It is creating jobs, boosting the local economy and providing clean energy to thousands of homes," Senator Baucus said. "The Maori people share the same innovative spirit I see when I am home in Montana. It is a drive to focus energy development on domestic resources."
As part of his work reforming the U.S. tax code, Senator Baucus has said tax reform should help diversify and secure America's energy sources. At a recent Finance Committee hearing on the topic, Senator Baucus explored ways to adopt a technology-neutral approach for the federal government to support energy that would help businesses innovate, but let the market decide which ones stick. As an example of a successful clean energy project, the Mokai station in New Zealand first opened in 2000, but has since expanded and helped the Tuaropaki Power Company grow.
On Monday, Senator Baucus met with New Zealand's Prime Minister John Key to pursue export opportunities for American businesses that would boost economic development and create jobs in the U.S. Senator Baucus and Prime Minister Key also discussed negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). Senator Baucus is a strong supporter of the TPP, and he has continually called for the agreement to strengthen U.S. job-creating trade ties and include high-level standards for labor issues, environmental standards and intellectual property protection.
Senator Baucus's trade mission will continue in Japan on Wednesday. While in Japan, he will meet with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba and Economic and Trade Minister Yukido Edano to seek expanded access for U.S. exports. Senator Baucus will also discuss the possibility of Japan joining the TPP negotiations in the future, and he will tour a TESLA Motors facility that sells electric automobiles that will be made in the U.S. and exported to Japan.
Senator Baucus last traveled to Japan in 2004, when he pressed for an end to its ban on U.S. beef and explored the opportunity for expanded trade with the U.S. As a more recent part of his continued efforts to increase U.S. exports and create good-paying U.S. jobs, he traveled to Russia in February to pursue export opportunities and discuss the U.S. establishing permanent normal trade relations with Russia (the Finance Committee passed his PNTR bill in July 2012). In early 2011, Baucus led a trade mission to Colombia and Brazil to promote U.S. exports and prepare for the debate over the FTA with Colombia that had not yet been approved at that point. Senator Baucus traveled to China in late 2010 to push China's leaders on their currency undervaluation and boost American competitiveness.