Washington, D.C. – Senator John Ensign spoke on the floor today about the need to encourage the development of renewable energy in the United States. Included below is an unofficial transcript of his remarks.
Unofficial Transcript from Today’s Floor Speech
The last few day we have been talking about the housing bill here, and last night I got up to speak as I had the day before about an amendment I’ve been trying to get on to the Housing bill. I would like to speak to that amendment once again.
This country is facing high energy costs right now with gasoline over $4 a gallon, home heating oil is affected by the price of energy, natural gas prices have gone up by over 70%. It’s affecting literally every single family and business in the United States.
We need to have a broad-based approach to finding all of the sources of American energy that we can possibly find to help make us less dependent on Middle Eastern oil and other energy supplies coming from outside the United States. It’s important for our national security, and it’s also important for our economic security. So, Mr. President, the bill that I offered, the amendment I wanted to offer to the housing bill deals with alternative renewable energies.
These are energies such as solar, wind, geothermal and the like. There are many others. This is a bill that Senator Maria Cantwell, a Democrat, and I worked on together. We actually offered this the last time a housing bill was offered back in April on the United States Senate floor.
Our amendment at that time passed with 88 yea votes and only 8 nay votes. Rarely in this body something passed in that fashion in such a bipartisan fashion. Let’s take advantage of that bipartisanship and do something right for the American people. We know that not only do we want more American energy but whenever we can we should certainly try to incentivize bringing more green energy to the United States.
And that’s the reason we introduced this bill, and that’s the reason why there was such a strong vote on this. There have been a couple of objections on why we shouldn’t put this amendment on to the Housing bill. It has been said that this has nothing to do with housing. Well, I would beg to differ.
First of all, the stronger that the economy is, the more people can afford to buy homes. This renewable energy tax bill literally will produce probably 100,000 to 200,000 jobs in the United States and billions of dollars worth of investment in the United States. People that have jobs, the better the chance that they can afford homes.
Secondly is that there are many provisions in our renewable energy tax bill that actually are directly related to housing. We encourage and give tax credits—if you want to convert and try to help the country out by taking your electricity off the power grid and produce your own electricity with solar energy in your home. We have tax credits in there for this.
If somebody is building a more energy-efficient home we have tax credits in there to do that. It is directly related to housing. Along with these, if you want to put more energy-efficient appliances in your home, then we have tax credits in there for that as well. So on many fronts this bill is related to housing.
One of the other provisions that the managers of this bill and especially the Democrat leadership has talked about why they don’t want this amendment attached to the housing bill is that it’s—quote—“Not paid for.” Well, Mr. President, there’s $2.4 billion in tax-related items that are not paid for in this bill. I won’t go into the details because they’re fairly complicated, but know that there are almost $2.4 billion in unpaid for tax incentives in this bill.
The Democrat leadership on this bill, the manager of this bill said that the Democrats in the House of Representatives wouldn’t go for our particular renewable tax credit legislation because it wasn’t paid for. That there were too many Democrats in the House of Representatives that would object to it. Well, how do they expect $2.5 billion in other tax incentives that aren’t paid for to be accepted over there and then argue that ours wouldn’t be accepted as well?
So, Mr. President, I think that we should do absolutely everything that we can at this time with high energy prices on gasoline, on home heating oil, on natural gas going up in the United States, we should do everything that we can to get our amendment on renewable tax credits put on to this Housing bill.
Another reason it’s important that we put it on this bill, instead of waiting for a bill in the future, is that a lot of the contracts and the financing of these projects, whether they’re solar, geothermal, wind or any of the other clean-burning energy that we have in the United States, it is critical for the financing of these projects that we have predictability.
We need to get this bill done as soon as possible. Each quarter that passes, and the Senator from Washington has spoken eloquently about this, each quarter that passes, that’s another project that doesn’t get financed and that won’t be financed in the future because they lost their financing, the investors lose their confidence. So we need to have predictability and we need to do this as soon as possible. And the Housing bill, everybody around here knows, is going to be one of the few bills that will be signed into law this year. So we need to have the renewable energy tax credit on a bill that’s going to be signed into law if—if we actually care about renewable energy in this country.
If we are about jobs in the renewable energy sector of our economy, we need to have this bill passed into law. The Democrat leader said that he’s going to pull the bill and we’re going to come back to this after the Fourth of July break. I would encourage all Americans, Mr. President, to contact their U.S. Senators and House of Representatives and let their voices be heard that this is an important issue to them.
Write-in, email, do all of the types of things that are necessary to participate in our democratic process to say yes to renewable energy, to say yes to jobs in America. Let’s put this on the Housing bill when we get back from the July Fourth recess, let’s do it as quickly as possible. Let’s get the House of Representatives to cooperate with us on something that is good for America.
I happen to be a Republican senator. This is a non-partisan item. And this should be nonpartisan. This should be something that’s done by forgetting whether you’re Republican or Democrat, let’s just do something that’s good for America. Let’s do that more around this place, and I think we’ll all be better off for it.
Mr. President, I conclude and would just implore my colleagues, think about this during the break, think about what’s at stake with the hundreds of thousands of jobs, the billions of dollars in investments in renewable energy and the chance, actually, that we can do something good for America and bring more green energy, more clean energy to the United States.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.