|00:00:00||I'M ON THE FLOOR TO DISCUSS SOMETHING THAT HAS BEEN A TOP PRIORITY FOR ME IN THE SENATE, THAT IS THE CRITICAL NEED TO GET SERIOUS ABOUT BUILDING A NEW ENERGY AGENDA FOR AMERICA, ONE THAT KEEPS OUR BUSINESSES COMPETITIVE IN THE GLOBAL ECONOMY, PRESERVES OUR ENVIRONMENT AND RESTARTS THE ENGINE THAT HAS ALWAYS KEPT OUR COUNTRY MOVING FORWARD, THAT IS INNOVATION.|
|00:00:20||I'M SPECIFICALLY FOCUSED ON THE ENERGY TAX EXTENDERS, THOSE THAT ARE SO NECESSARY FOR US TO KEEP GOING IF THE AREA OF HOMEGROWN AND RENEWABLE ENERGY.|
|00:00:32||WE ALL KNOW THAT THERE IS NO SOLUTION, SINGLE SOLUTION FOR GETTING US HERE.|
|00:00:38||BUT WE DO -- WHAT WE DO NEED IS NOT A SILVER BULLET.|
|00:00:42||WE NEED A SILVER BUCKSHOT AS WE LIKE TO SAY IN MINNESOTA.|
|00:00:46||WITH MANY OF MY COLLEAGUES, I'VE TALKED ABOUT THE NEED TO CONTINUE DEVELOPING ALTERNATIVE RESOURCES SUCH AS HYDRO, BIOFUEL, SOLAR, WIND AND WE'VE ALSO TALKED ABOUT HOW WE NEED TO CONTINUE DEVELOPING EXISTING TECHNOLOGIES, LIKE DOMESTIC OIL AND GAS PRODUCTION WHILE ENFORCING APPROPRIATE SAFEGUARDS.|
|00:01:06||THIS IS THE VERY -- ALL -- THE ALL OF THE ABOVE APPROACH WE NEED TO TAKE IN ORDER TO KEEP ALL OPTIONS ON THE TABLE.|
|00:01:14||THIS MEANS EXPLORING SOME OF THE NEW PROPOSALS WE'VE SEEN WITH PROMISING TECHNOLOGIES LIKE THE SMART GRID.|
|00:01:20||BUT IT ALSO MEANS EXTENDING THE CRITICAL TAX INCENTIVES THAT HAVE BEEN SO IMPORTANT IN ADVANCING THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE NEXT GENERATION OF BIOFUELS AND THE NEXT GENERATION OF RENEWABLE ENERGY.|
|00:01:33||THAT'S WHY I'VE PUSHED TO ENSURE THAT WE HAVE THE RIGHT POLICIES IN PLACE FOR ENCOURAGING CLEAN ENERGY INNOVATION, INCLUDING THE BIODIESEL TAX CREDIT WHICH SUPPORTS OVER 31,000 JOBS AND HAS ALLOWED DOMESTIC PRODUCTION TO MORE THAN DOUBLE SINCE 2011.|
|00:01:50||IT MEANS THE PRODUCTION TAX CREDIT WHICH HAS MADE IT POSSIBLE FOR WIND POWER TO REPRESENT OVER A THIRD OF ALL NEW ELECTRICITY GENERATION CAPACITY IN THE UNITED STATES LAST YEAR.|
|00:02:02||THINK OF THAT FIGURE.|
|00:02:03||THINK OF THE STRIDES THAT WE'VE MADE AND WHERE WE CAN GO IN THE FUTURE.|
|00:02:07||AND THE ADVANCED ENERGY MANUFACTURING TAX CREDIT, WHICH HAS LEVERAGED $5.|
|00:02:13||4 BILLION IN PRIVATE INVESTMENT, BOOSTING GROWTH AND CREATING NEW U.|
|00:02:18||S. MANUFACTURING JOBS BY PRODUCING COMPONENTS AND EQUIPMENT FOR THE BURGEONING RENEWABLE ENERGY INDUSTRY.|
|00:02:25||EXTENDING THESE CRITICAL TAX CREDITS WILL HELP STRENGTHEN OUR COUNTRY'S CLEAN ENERGY BUSINESS SO THAT THEY CAN CONTINUE TO GROW AND THRIVE.|
|00:02:33||BUT THEY ARE JUST ONE PART OF THE EQUATION.|
|00:02:37||AGAIN, THERE IS NO SILVER BULLET SOLUTION TO OUR NATION'S ENERGY CHALLENGES AND THAT IS WHY WE NEED TO BE WILLING TO COME TOGETHER TO HAMMER OUT A COMPREHENSIVE STRATEGY FOR MOVING FORWARD.|
|00:02:47||WE CANNOT AFFORD TO KEEP OUR HEADS BURIED IN THE SAND, WE CANNOT AFFORD TO LET JET YET ANOTHER GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY PASS US BY.|
|00:02:55||TOO MANY HAVE ALREADY, SADLY, COME AND GONE.|
|00:02:57||OVER THE YEARS I BELIEVE THERE HAVE BEEN, ESPECIALLY IN THIS LAST DECADE, SEVERAL MOMENTS WHEN WE COULD HAVE ACTED BUT DIDN'T WHEN WE HAD THE FULL SUPPORT OF THE AMERICAN PEOPLE WHO WENT IN A NEW DIRECTION IN ENERGY POLICY.|
|00:03:10||THE FIRST WAS IMMEDIATELY AFTER 9/11 WHEN I BELIEVE PRESIDENT BUSH IF HE HAD MADE A NEW ENERGY POLICY ONE OF THE CHALLENGES TO THE COUNTRY IN ADDITION TO INVADING AFGHANISTAN, COMBATING TERRORISM, I BELIEVE WE COULD HAVE MOVED FORWARD.|
|00:03:24||BUT THAT DIDN'T HAPPEN, AND THERE'S NO NEED TO DWELL ON IT TODAY.|
|00:03:29||THE SECOND MOMENT WAS BEFORE YOU, MR.|
|00:03:31||PRESIDENT, WERE IN THE CONGRESS, THAT WAS THE SUMMER OF 2008 WHEN WE DID TAKE ACTION TO RAISE GAS MILEAGE AND ENERGY EFFICIENCY STANDARDS, SOMETHING I LIKE TO CALL BUILDING A FRIDGE TO THE NEXT CENTURY, BUT WE DIDN'T MAKE THAT KIND OF COMPREHENSIVE PROGRESS ON A COMPREHENSIVE ENERGY PLAN THAT WE SHOULD HAVE MADE.|
|00:03:51||THE THIRD MOMENT WAS WHEN PRESIDENT OBAMA FIRST CAME INTO OFFICE.|
|00:03:56||I AT THAT TIME ADVOCATED FOR A CLEAN ENERGY STANDARD THAT COULD HAVE I BELIEVE PASSED IN THE FIRST SIX MONTHS, COULD INTEREST HAVE BEEN COMBINED WITH SOME OF THE OTHER COMPREHENSIVE THINGS WE WERE TALKING ABOUT.|
|00:04:05||WE HAD A BIPARTISAN GROUP GOING AT THE TIME, A GROUP OF 1 OF US --, 14 OF US BUT INSTEAD A DECISION WAS MADE TO FOCUS ON CAP-AND-TRADE LATER INSTEAD OF STARTING WITH THAT CLEAN ENERGY STANDARD AND BUILDING FROM THAT.|
|00:04:20||THOSE WERE MISSED OPPORTUNITIES, A CHAIN OF MISSED OPPORTUNITIES.|
|00:04:23||BUT UNTIL WE GET SERIOUS ABOUT BUILDING A NEW ENERGY AGENDA FOR AMERICA, WE'RE GOING TO CONTINUE TO STRUGGLE WITH THE CONSEQUENCES WHICH HAVE CREATED A VICIOUS CYCLE OF ECONOMIC AND ENVIRONMENTAL COSTS ON NOT LEAST OF ALL THOSE CAUSED BY CLIMATE CHANGE.|
|00:04:37||CLIMATE CHANGE, AS YOU KNOW, ISN'T JUST ABOUT MELTING GLACIERS AND RISING OCEAN LEVEL.|
|00:04:43||SHIFTING GLOBAL TRENDS HAVE THE POTENTIAL TO WREAK INTENSE HAVOC ON LOCAL ECONOMIES, PARTICULARLY THOSE ANCHORED IN AGRICULTURE.|
|00:04:50||THE FACTS STAND FOR THEMSELVES.|
|00:04:52||IN JANUARY 2010, THE UNITED STATES SECURITIES AND EXCHANGE COMMISSION SAID FOR THE FIRST TIME THAT PUBLIC COMPANIES SHOULD ADD CLIMATE CHANGE TO THE LIST OF PUBLIC FINANCIAL OR LEGAL IMPACTS THAT THEY ACTUALLY DISCLOSE TO INVESTORS.|
|00:05:06||THE BUREAU OF ECONOMIC ANALYSIS AT THE DEPARTMENT OF COMMERCE ESTIMATES THAT AT LEAST ONE-THIRD OF THE U.|
|00:05:12||S. GROSS DOMESTIC PRODUCT IS WEATHER AND CLIMATE SENSITIVE WITH THE POTENTIAL ECONOMIC IMPACT OF $4 TRILLION A YEAR.|
|00:05:21||MUCH OF THAT IMPACT WOULD BE WRUNG OUT OF OUR FARM COMMUNITIES AND FROM STATES WITH LARGE RURAL POPULATIONS LIKE MY OWN.|
|00:05:28||ANY FARMER WILL TELL YOU THAT A CHANGE IN WEATHER CAN MEAN THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BUMPER CROP AND A COMPLETE DISASTER, REGARDLESS OF HOW HARD THAT FARMER WORKS.|
|00:05:37||SO IT GOES WITHOUT SAYING THAT ANY KIND OF SIGNIFICANT SWING IN CLIMATE PAIRED WITH INCREASINGLY UNPREDICTABLE RAINFALL COULD POSE A PROBLEM TO AMERICANS WHO MAKE THEIR LIVING OFF THE LAND.|
|00:05:49||IN 2008, OUR COUNTRY'S FARMS, FORESTS AND RANCHES PRODUCED $18 BILLION IN GOODS AND EXPORTED CLOSE TO ONE-THIRD OF THAT.|
|00:05:57||THIS IS A SECTOR THAT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT TO OUR ECONOMY AND WE CAN'T AFFORD FOR IT TO BE JEOPARDIZED.|
|00:06:03||WE ALSO CAN'T AFFORD THE RISING COSTS OF FIRE MANAGEMENT AS FOREST FIRES HAVE BECOME INCREASINGLY INTENSE IN RECENT YEARS.|
|00:06:11||THE CURRENT PATH IS NOT SUSTAINABLE AND THAT'S WHY I'M ON THE FLOOR TODAY IN THE HOPE THAT WE CAN SPARK A MEANINGFUL CONVERSATION.|
|00:06:19||BUT MOST SPECIFICALLY, THAT WE LOOK AT EXTENDING THOSE ENERGY TAX CREDITS.|
|00:06:23||I BELIEVE WE CAN TAKE A PAGE FROM OUR STATE, THE STATE OF MINNESOTA.|
|00:06:28||MY HOME STATE IS PROOF THAT POLICIES PROMOTING HOMEGROWN ENERGY CAN ALSO PROMOTE BUSINESS GROWTH AND JOB CREATION.|
|00:06:35||THE UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IN THE STATE OF MINNESOTA IS $5.|
|00:06:39||7%, WELL BELOW THE NATIONAL AVERAGE, AND PART OF THAT IS THANKS TO OUR ENERGY POLICIES.|
|00:06:46||A RECENT REPORT BY THE PEW CHARITABLE TRUST SHOWN SHOAZ IN THE LAST DECADE, MINNESOTA JOBS IN THIS SECTOR GREW BY 11.|
|00:06:55||9% COMPARED FOR 1.|
|00:06:56||9% FOR JOBS OVERALL.|
|00:06:57||AS I TRAVEL AROUND THE STATE, YOU CAN SEE THE PROGRESS THAT HAS BEEN MADE.|
|00:07:00||I THINK OF PLACES I VISITED LIKE SEBECA, MINNESOTA, A SMALL TOWN WHERE A SMALL TELEPHONE COMPANY FELT THAT THEIR CUSTOMERS, WHO WERE IN EXTREME RURAL AREAS, NEEDED BACKUP POWER SUPPLIES.|
|00:07:11||SO WHAT DID THEY DO?|
|00:07:12||THEY FOUND A WAY TO COMBINE WIND TURBINE AND SOLAR PANELS SO THAT THEY COULD ACTUALLY PURCHASE, THEIR CUSTOMERS COULD PURCHASE BACKUP POWER.|
|00:07:21||THEY DID IT THEMSELVES AND THEY SOLD IT TO THEIR CUSTOMERS.|
|00:07:24||WELL, IT WAS VERY POPULAR AND AT ONE POINT, AN 80-YEAR-OLD MAN CAME TO SEE THEM AND HE SAID, YOU KNOW, I'D LIKE TO PURCHASE MORE, I WANT TO DO MY WHOLE HOUSE IN SOLAR.|
|00:07:33||AND THE TELEPHONE COMPANY SAID, SIR, YOU KNOW, YOU CAN DO THAT BUT IT WILL TAKE YOU ABOUT TEN YEARS TO GET YOUR INVESTMENT OUT.|
|00:07:39||BUT IT'S GOING TO BE WORTH IT IF IT TAKES TEN YEARS, BUT DO YOU MIND IF WE ASK HOW OLD YOU ARE.|
|00:07:44||AND THE MAN SAID, YEAH, I'M 85 YEARS OLD BUT I WANT TO GO GREEN.|
|00:07:47||THOSE ARE TRUE STORIES FROM THE STATE OF MINNESOTA.|
|00:07:51||THEN THERE'S PENT AIR, A MINNESOTA APPEAR LIS-BASED WATER SOLUTIONS COMPANY THAT HAS DONATED A CUSTOM-DESIGNED RAINWATER RECYCLING SYSTEM TO THE NEW AND GREAT TARGET BASEBALL FIELD.|
|00:08:03||THAT TECHNOLOGY WILL CAPTURE, CONSERVE AND REUSE RAINWATER, SAVING THE BALLPARK MORE THAN 2 MILLION GALLONS OF WATER EACH YEAR.|
|00:08:10||AND IN ONE OF GENERAL MILLS' MANUFACTURING PLANTS, THEY'VE DEVELOPED THEIR OWN INNOVATIVE WAY TO RE-USE WATER, DIVERTING IT TO THE LOCAL MUNICIPAL GOLF COURSE TO WATER THE GRASS.|
|00:08:21||THESE ARE JUST A FEW EXAMPLES OF MINNESOTA'S COMMITMENT TO ENERGY INNOVATION.|
|00:08:26||THERE ARE COUNTLESS STORIES OUT THERE BUT IT ISN'T JUST A MINNESOTA STORY, IT'S AN AMERICAN STORY.|
|00:08:32||AND HE WOULD NOTE THAT THE RENEWABLE ENERGY STANDARD IN MINNESOTA, 25-BY-25, ONE OF THE MOST AGGRESSIVE IN THE COUNTRY -- 30% FOR EXCEL -- AND YET OUR UNEMPLOYMENT RATE IS SO MUCH BETTER THAN THE REST OF THE COUNTRY.|
|00:08:46||THE QUEST TO DEVELOP CLEAN, SUSTAINABLE HOMEGROWN ENERGY ISN'T SPECIFIC TO ONE PART OF THE COUNTRY OR, FOR THAT MATTER, FOR ONE POLITICAL PARTY.|
|00:08:55||OUR RENEWABLE ENERGY STANDARD WAS ACTUALLY NEARLY UNANIMOUSLY ADOPTED BY THE LEGISLATURE, DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS, AND SIGNED INTO LAW BY A REPUBLICAN GOVERNOR, GOVERNOR POLENTI.|
|00:09:07||THIS IS AN ISSUE THAT I BELIEVE WE CAN AND SHOULD UNITE US AND A WAY TO ADDRESS THESE CONCERNS BECAUSE IT BUILDS A COALITION ACROSS A BROAD SPECTRUM AND THAT IS ENERGY POLICY.|
|00:09:20||IT SAVES YOU MONEY, IT'S BETTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND IT IS CERTAINLY BETTER FOR OUR NATIONAL SECURITY IF WE'RE PRODUCING OUR OWN HOMEGROWN ENERGY.|
|00:09:27||IN THE PAST, DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS HAVE MANAGED TO COME TOGETHER TO CONFRONT TOUGH CHALLENGES.|
|00:09:32||FROM THE CIVIL RIGHTS ACT IN THE 1960'S TO KEEPING SOCIAL SECURITY SOLVENT IN THE 1980'S TO WELFARE REFORM IN THE 1990'S.|
|00:09:40||BUT PERHAPS THE MOST FITTING EXAMPLE IN THE CONTEXT OF COMBATING CLIMATE CHANGE IS THE CLEAN AIR ACT.|
|00:09:47||AS YOU KNOW, THAT LANDMARK BILL TOOK THE FIRST STEPS TO ADDRESS ACID RAIN AND EXPANDED EFFORTS TO CONTROL TOXIC AIR POLLUTANTS.|
|00:09:54||WHEN THE BILL PASSED IN THE 1990'S, IT HAD STRONG BIPARTISAN SUPPORT FROM DEMOCRATS AND REPUBLICANS ALIKE.|
|00:10:02||IT'S WORTH MENTIONING THAT ALL TEN MEMBERS OF THE MINNESOTA DELEGATION AT THE TIME, WHICH INCLUDED FIVE DEMOCRATS AND FIVE REPUBLICANS -- THAT'S OUR FEDERAL DELEGATION -- SUPPORTED THE BILL, INCLUDING REPUBLICAN SENATOR DAVE DURENBERGER, WHO IS AMONG ITS CHIEF AUTHORS AND STAUNCHEST SUPPORTERS.|
|00:10:18||SINCE THEN, THE CLEAN AIR ACT HAS HELPED PREVENT MORE THAN 18 MILLION CHILD RESPIRATORY ILLNESSES AND 300,000 PREMATURE DEATHS.|
|00:10:27||POLICIES TO PROTECT OUR RIVERS, LAKES AND STREAMS HAVE ALSO HAD A POSITIVE IMPACT ON PEOPLE'S HEALTH.|
|00:10:33||COMING FROM THE LAND OF 10,000 LAKES, I HAVE A UNIQUE APPRECIATE FOR THE IMPORTANCE OF CLEAN WATER.|
|00:10:39||IT IS THE RESOURCE THAT SUSTAINS OUR LAKES AND RIVERS, THAT PROVIDES CRITICAL HABITAT TO COUNTLESS FISH AND MILLIONS OF MIGRATORY BIRDS THAT FUELS OUR THRIVING OUTDOOR ECONOMY.|
|00:10:50||HUNTING AND FISHING ARE MORE THAN JUST HOBBIES IN OUR STATE, AS YOU KNOW, MR.|
|00:10:55||PRESIDENT. THEY'RE A WAY OF LIFE AND THEY ARE CRITICALLY IMPORTANT TO OUR ECONOMY.|
|00:10:59||EVERY YEAR, NEARLY 2 MILLION PEOPLE FISH OUR LAKES AND OUR STREAMS AND CLOSE TO 700,000 PEOPLE HUNT OUR FIELDS AND FORESTS.|
|00:11:10||NATIONWIDE, THE HUNTING AND FISHING INDUSTRY IS VALUED AT $95.|
|00:11:16||5 BILLION A YEAR AND BRINGS IN $14 BILLION IN DIRECT TAX REVENUE.|
Ms. KLOBUCHAR. Mr. President, I am on the floor today to discuss something that has been a top priority for me in the Senate; that is, the critical need to get serious about building a new energy agenda for America, one that keeps our businesses competitive in the global economy, preserves the integrity of our environment, and restarts the engine that has always kept our country moving forward--and that is innovation. I am specifically focused on the energy tax extenders, those that are so necessary for us to keep going in the area of homegrown and renewable energy.
We all know there is no single solution for getting us there. What we need is not a silver bullet; we need a silver buckshot, as we like to say in Minnesota.
I have talked about the need with many of my colleagues to continue developing alternative resources such as hydro, geothermal, biofuels, solar, wind, and we have also talked about how we need to continue to develop existing technologies such as domestic oil and gas production while enforcing appropriate safeguards. This is the very ``all-of-the-above'' approach we need to take in order to keep all options on the table.
This means exploring some of the new proposals we have seen with promising technologies such as the smart grid. But it also means extending the critical tax incentives that have been so important in advancing the development of the next generation of biofuels and the next generation of renewable energy. That is why I have pushed to ensure that we have the right policies in place for encouraging clean energy innovation, including the biodiesel tax credit which supports over 31,000 jobs and has allowed domestic production to more than double since 2011. It means the production tax credit, which made it possible for wind power to represent over one-third of all new electricity generation capacity in the United States last year.
Think of that figure. Think of the strides we have made and where we can go in the future. The advanced energy manufacturing tax credit has leveraged [Page: S488] $5.4 billion in private investment, boosting growth and creating new U.S. manufacturing jobs by producing components and equipment for the burgeoning global renewable energy industry.
Extending these critical tax credits will help strengthen our country's clean energy businesses so they can continue to grow and thrive. But they are just one part of the equation. Again, there is no silver bullet solution to our Nation's energy challenges, and that is why we need to be willing to come together to hammer out a comprehensive strategy for moving forward. We cannot afford to keep our heads buried in the sand. We cannot afford to let yet another golden opportunity pass us by. Sadly, too many have already come and gone.
Over the years, I believe there have been--especially in this last decade--several moments when we could have acted but didn't when we had the full support of the American people who had wanted a new direction in energy policy. The first was immediately after 9/11 when President Bush--if he had made a new energy policy one of the challenges to the country in addition to invading Afghanistan and combating terrorism, I believe we could have moved forward. But that didn't happen, and there is no need to dwell on it today.
The second moment was before the arrival of the Presiding Officer in the Congress, and that was in the summer of 2008 when we did take action to raise gas mileage and energy-efficiency standards--something I like to call building a bridge to the next century--but we didn't make the kind of comprehensive progress on a comprehensive energy plan that we should have made.
The third moment was when President Obama first came into office. At that time, I advocated for a clean energy standard that I believe could have passed in the first 6 months. It could have been combined with some of the other comprehensive things we were talking about. We had a bipartisan group going at the time, a group of 14 of us. But, instead, a decision was made to focus on cap and trade later, instead of starting with that clean energy standard and building from that.
Those were missed opportunities, a chain of missed opportunities. But until we get serious about building a newer energy agenda for America, we are going to continue to struggle with the consequences which have created a vicious cycle of economic and environmental costs, not least of all those caused by climate change.
Climate change, as the Presiding Officer knows, is not just about melting glaciers and rising ocean levels. Shifting global trends have the potential to wreak intense havoc on local economies, particularly those anchored in agricultural. The facts stand for themselves.
In January 2010, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission said for the first time that public companies should add climate change to the list of possible financial or legal impacts that they actually disclose to investors.
The Bureau of Economic Analysis, at the Department of Commerce, estimates that at least one-third of the U.S. gross domestic product is weather and climate sensitive, with a potential economic impact of $4 trillion a year. Much of that impact would be wrung out of our farm communities and from States with large rural populations, such as my own. Any farmer will tell you a change in weather can mean the difference between a bumper crop and a complete disaster--regardless of how hard that farmer works. So it goes without saying that any kind of significant swing in climate--paired with increasingly unpredictable rainfall--could pose a problem to Americans who make their living off the land.
In 2008, Minnesota's farms, forests, and ranches produced $18 billion in goods and exported close to one-third of that. This is a sector that is critically important to our economy, and we cannot afford for it to be jeopardized. We also cannot afford the rising costs of fire management, as forest fires have become increasingly intense in recent years.
The current path is not sustainable. That is why I am on the floor, in the hope that we can spark a meaningful conversation, but, most specifically, that we look at extending those energy tax credits.
I believe we can take a page from our State, the State of Minnesota.
My home State is proof that policies promoting homegrown energy can also promote business growth and job creation. The unemployment rate in the State of Minnesota is 5.7 percent--well below the national average--and part of that is thanks to our energy policies. In fact, a recent report by the Pew Charitable Trust showed that in the last decade Minnesota jobs in this sector grew by 11.9 percent, compared to 1.9 percent for jobs overall.
As I travel around the State, I can see the progress that has been made. I think of places I have visited, such as Sebeka, MN, where a small telephone company felt their customers who were in extremely rural areas needed backup power supplies. So what did they do? They found a way to combine wind turbines and solar panels so their customers could actually purchase backup power. They did it themselves, and they sold it to their customers.
It was very popular, and at one point an 80-year-old man came to see them, and he said: I would like to purchase more. I want to do my whole house in solar. The telephone company said: Sir, you can do that, but it will take you about 10 years to get your investment back, but it is going to be worth it. Do you mind if we ask how old you are? The man said: I am 80 years old but I want to go green.
That is one of those true stories from the State of Minnesota.
Then there is Pentair, a Minneapolis-based water solutions company that has donated a custom-designed Rain Water Recycling System to the new and great Target baseball field. That technology will capture, conserve, and reuse rainwater, saving the ballpark more than 2 million gallons of water each year.
In one of General Mills' manufacturing plants, they have developed their own innovative way to reuse water--diverting it to the local municipal golf course to water the grass.
These are just a few examples of Minnesota's commitment to energy innovation. There are countless stories out there, but it is not just a Minnesota story, it is an American story.
I would note that the renewable energy standard in Minnesota--25 by 25--is one of the most aggressive in the country--30 percent for Xcel--and yet our unemployment rate is so much better than the rest of the country.
The quest to develop clean, sustainable, homegrown energy is not specific to just one part of the country or, for that matter, just one political party. Our renewable energy standard was actually nearly unanimously adopted by the legislature--Democrats and Republicans--and signed into law by a Republican Governor, Governor Pawlenty. This is an issue I believe can and should unite us, and it is a way to address these concerns because it builds a coalition across a broad spectrum; that is, energy policy. It saves money. It is better for the environment. It is certainly better for our national security, producing our own homegrown energy.
In the past, Democrats and Republicans have managed to come together to confront tough challenges--from the Civil Rights Act in the 1960s, to keeping Social Security solvent in the 1980s, to welfare reform in the 1990s.
But perhaps the most fitting example, in the context of combating climate change, is the Clean Air Act. As the Presiding Officer knows, that landmark bill took the first steps to address acid rain and expanded efforts to control toxic air pollutants.
When the bill passed in the 1990s, it had strong bipartisan support from Democrats and Republicans alike. It is worth mentioning that all 10 Members of the Minnesota delegation at the time, which included 5 Democrats and 5 Republicans--that was our Federal delegation--supported the bill, including Republican Senator Dave Durenberger, who was among its chief authors and staunchest supporters.
Since then, the Clean Air Act has helped prevent more than 18 million child respiratory illnesses and 300,000 premature deaths.
Policies to protect our rivers, lakes, and streams have also had a positive impact on people's health.
Coming from the ``Land of 10,000 Lakes,'' I have a unique appreciation for the importance of clean water. It is the resource that sustains our lakes and rivers, that provides critical habitat to countless fish and millions of [Page: S489] migratory birds, that fuels our thriving outdoor economy.
Hunting and fishing are more than just hobbies in our State, I say to the Presiding Officer. They are a way of life, and they are critically important to our economy.
Every year, nearly 2 million people fish our lakes and our streams, and close to 700,000 people hunt our fields and forests.
Nationwide, the hunting and fishing industry is valued at $95.5 billion a year, and it brings in $14 billion in revenue. Clean water is a fundamental pillar in supporting this economic sector and protecting people against dangerous toxins such as mercury.
Minnesota has passed some of the most stringent mercury rules in the country. In 2006, our State legislature passed laws requiring our largest powerplants to cut mercury emissions 90 percent by 2015. The Federal Government is finally catching up and will publish a requirement in coming days to make similar reductions by 2016.
Yet despite everything we have done to combat mercury pollution, we are still grappling with its consequences. A recent analysis of 25 years of data has found an unexpected rise in average mercury levels in northern pike and walleye from Minnesota lakes. After declining by 37 percent from 1982 to 1992, average mercury concentrations in these fish began to increase in the mid 1990s.
During the last decade of that period, 1996 to 2006, average mercury concentrations increased 15 percent. These numbers make one of the clearest possible arguments for supporting Federal protection, because we all have a stake in protecting the health of our fish and wildlife, and we cannot do that if we cannot keep dangerous toxins out of our air and water supply.
This is important to our economy, but it is also important to maintaining a certain way of American life, a way of life that many of us grew up with that we ought to be able to pass on to future generations. I grew up in a family that valued the outdoors. I was 18 years old before I took any vacation that did not involve a tent or a camper in one way or another.
This did not just start with my parents. My grandpa was an avid hunter and fisherman. He worked 1,500 feet underground in the mines in Ely, MN. You can imagine why for him hunting was his way of life. This was his way out. When he got above ground from those mines, it was something he loved to do. I want future generations of Minnesotans to be able to enjoy these same pastimes. I want them to be able to fish in clean water, to hunt in abundant forests, and to camp out in our beautiful wilderness.
But I also want them to know the same America we know, an America that is innovative, that is forward thinking, that is willing to come together and hammer out hard-won solutions to tough challenges.
Nowhere is this more important than our quest to move America forward through smarter energy and environmental policies. I cannot help but think, this is our generation's version of the space race and energy race. But the finish line will not be Neil Armstrong placing a flag on the Moon. It will be building the next generation of energy-efficient windows, and doing it in northern Minnesota instead of in China, or an electric car battery factory in Memphis, TN, instead of Mumbai, India, or a wind turbine manufacturer in San Jose, CA, instead of Sao Paulo, Brazil.
This is my vision for an energy America that is energy independent, a stronger, more innovative America. I know you all want to same thing. That is why I am here on the floor today, because I know we cannot continue to get by with piecemeal energy policy. We cannot play red light-green light with our tax incentives as we are doing this year, and that is why we have to put them in place again.
What we need now is a comprehensive national blueprint for energy policy, a solution that will serve the integrity of our air, of our water and natural resources, that gives businesses the incentives to research and develop new sources of energy that invest in the next generation of American innovation.
That is our challenge. It is not going to happen overnight, but I believe we will get it done. We have before; we will do it again. One way to start is to make sure we extend these energy tax credits.
I yield the floor.