Great states like Colorado make things. We innovate, we manufacture and we create jobs. Great countries like the United States make their own energy.
For Coloradans, these facts are not secrets. For years, we have led the way in creating jobs and powering our nation. From clean-burning natural gas to our abundant wind energy, Colorado is a leader in responsibly tapping our domestic resources in the pursuit of job creation and energy independence.
However, one critical facet of our all-of-the-above approach to energy security is at grave risk. Congress could pull the rug out from under our fledgling wind energy industry. How? Through inaction. The wind Production Tax Credit is set to expire at the end of this year, and abruptly halting the wind PTC, as some have shortsightedly proposed, could hurt local economies, communities and families all across Colorado.
The wind industry already has started layoffs anticipating that Republicans and Democrats will not be able to come together to extend this vital tax credit. Indeed, thousands of jobs could disappear if Congress does not extend the wind Production Tax Credit.
The PTC is the basis for good-paying manufacturing jobs — jobs for Coloradans making wind towers, turbines and blades, and for people working up and down the supply chain. Across the country, we have more than 400 wind-related manufacturing facilities, and right here in Colorado, Pueblo has the largest wind tower manufacturing facility in the world.
Late last month, I was lucky enough to tour that facility, where hundreds of workers fabricate, weld and produce towers for wind turbines. Their jobs and many more good-paying manufacturing jobs are on the line. The message from these workers could not have been clearer: Congress needs to extend the wind PTC — for their and their families’ sakes.
As the wind industry has grown in the United States, we are making more and more of the 8,000 component parts of a wind turbine here at home. In Colorado alone, we make everything from steel brackets to carbon fiber reinforcements for wind turbine blades.
We need to keep manufacturing in America. And, equally important, we need made-in-America energy. It makes little sense for Congress to effectively outsource these jobs to China and other regions of the world while, at the same time, jeopardizing a cleaner and more secure energy future.
Some have questioned if the wind PTC is necessary or if wind should be able to stand on its own two feet from the get-go. But this view does not take the long view of America’s pursuit of energy independence. The wind PTC is no different from the tax incentives and benefits the federal government has given to coal, oil, natural gas and other energy industries.
Here in Colorado, nearly the entire Congressional delegation, Republicans and Democrats, have united in support of the wind PTC. Nationally, we have seen leaders from both parties joining us in this fight, including Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas, Karl Rove and U.S. Rep. Steve King of Iowa.
If we are going to keep making and building things in America and if we are going to build a future of energy independence, we need to pass an extension of the wind PTC now. We cannot afford to wait. And neither can the 6,000 Coloradans and their families.
Mark Udall serves on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. He is the senior senator for Colorado.