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Family and Business Tax Cut Certainty Act of 2012--Motion to Proceed

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, I commend my colleague from West Virginia for his eloquent and articulate and powerful remarks about the importance of standing with our veterans. We have work to do, as Abraham Lincoln so powerfully put it. I want to acknowledge the great work of my colleague from West Virginia.

Mr. MANCHIN. I thank the Senator.


Mr. UDALL of Colorado. Mr. President, I am here, as I have been on many a morning over the last number of months, to urge all of us to work together in order to extend the production tax credit for wind energy. The PTC, as it is known, is going to expire in a few months. That impending expiration not only threatens the jobs of tens of thousands of Americans but also threatens the continued prosperity of an industry that has seen tremendous growth over the last decade. We simply cannot let that happen. But each day we fail to act--and, in effect, abdicate our basic responsibility to support job creation--we are allowing jobs to be exported and we are truly abandoning a part of the bright future of American manufacturing.

I have had the opportunity over the last several months, as I mentioned, to come to the floor and talk about the benefits of the production tax credit in individual States. Today I think it is timely and appropriate to highlight the great State of Arizona--a State I have a special affinity for, as does the Acting President pro tempore. We were both born and raised in Tucson, and we both, I know, share a

sense of pride because Arizona has adopted a renewable electricity standard such as we have in Colorado, such as we have in the Acting President pro tempore's State of New Mexico. The important part is not just the adoption of that standard but Arizona's commitment to renewable energy has truly produced results.

When you think about Arizona, you think about solar resources. The Sun shines many a day in Arizona. But it is also home to more than ample wind resources. In fact, the studies show that Arizona has enough wind potential to provide 40 percent--40 percent--of the State's current electricity needs. That is according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

Arizona is not letting that wind go to waste. It completed its first commercial wind project in 2009, and it has been steadily adding capacity ever since. This first project was the Dry Lake Wind Project, which is a wind farm comprised of 30 turbines in Navajo County, which is up in the northeastern section of the State, familiar to the Acting President pro tempore, quite near his home State of New Mexico.

But Arizona is not stopping with this one project. There are at least seven wind manufacturers in Arizona that are creating good-paying jobs, and I want to mention one, Southwest Windpower. It is a national leader in the small wind market, and it has a manufacturing facility up in Flagstaff, which is in Coconino County, in the center of the northern part of Arizona.

These online wind projects already power over 33,000 homes, and, as I have highlighted, current projects under construction are likely to drastically multiply that number. Why is this important? Well, we have clean, renewable energy that creates American jobs. You talk about a virtuous cycle. This is one.

There is a large wind project proposed in Arizona. It is the Mohave County Wind Farm. It is up in the northwestern section of Arizona. It will produce 500 megawatts of electricity. Mr. President, 500 megawatts would power 110,000 homes per year. As importantly, that is an investment of hundreds of millions of dollars and, conservatively, it would create nearly 1,000 jobs. Those are impressive numbers.

Why do I bring up this proposed project? Well, I bring it up because this investment is at risk. The BLM, under Secretary Salazar's leadership, has fast-tracked this project, and it is scheduled to begin construction next year. But our inaction here literally will thwart those plans. Without an extension of the production tax credit, the future of this project and the jobs and the clean energy it will produce are in jeopardy. That is flat out unacceptable. We have to act here in the Congress in order for the immense potential of wind power to be realized.

I want to talk today about something I have not mentioned previously on the upside. When we produce power from wind in the arid West, we save an enormous amount of water. Recent estimates project that for every 1,000 megawatts of new wind power produced, we save over 818 million gallons of water on an annual basis. I do not have to tell the Acting President pro tempore we are in a period of extreme drought not only in the Southwest but in the Midwest. When you add in the fact that Arizona has a very arid climate, fresh water supplies become increasingly precious. So when we take steps to reduce the demand for that fresh water, we make a downpayment on the future of the Southwest. Of course, we know that well in Colorado. We are the headwaters of some of the most significant major rivers that feed the water needs of the States all around us. But if we let the PTC expire, we risk all the jobs, the manufacturing, the water savings that would have really positive effects on our economy.

I see my good friend from Arizona is here, and I want to conclude. But I want to conclude on this note: This is not a partisan issue. On both sides of the aisle, we have strong support for the production tax credit.

Just last month, the Finance Committee included an extension of the production tax credit on a strong bipartisan vote. Our good friend, Senator Grassley from Iowa, has led the effort here in the Congress, and we have support in both Houses. So I want to make a plea to all of us: Let's act in a bipartisan fashion. Let's renew the production tax credit.

The production tax credit simply equals jobs. So we ought to pass it as soon as possible because the production tax credit equals jobs, and that is job one here for those of us in the Senate.

In the House yesterday a group of Members--over a dozen of them--made this effort bicameral. They talked on the floor of the House about how the PTC has benefited their districts. Their remarks highlighted what I have been saying for months: Without the PTC, thousands of good-paying American jobs will likely be lost or shipped overseas. There is no reason that should happen. Let's pass the production tax credit extension as soon as possible.

I thank the Acting President pro tempore for his interest and his support.

I yield the floor.


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