Building a ‘Green’ Manufacturing Base

March 23, 2009
04:22 PM
A bipartisan group of eight senators have introduced a bill aimed at renewing America’s industrial sector by using less energy, reducing carbon emissions and producing the technologies that will help the U.S. (and world) reduce its reliance on fossil fuels.
S. 661, the “Restoring America’s Manufacturing Leadership through Energy Efficiency Act of 2009”, is sponsored by Senators Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME), Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), Olympia Snowe (R-ME), Evan Bayh (D-IN), Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Mark Pryor (D-AR).   The bill will be considered as part of the comprehensive energy legislation that the Senate Energy Committee expects to start marking up next week.  It takes critical first steps in revitalizing our nation’s manufacturing base by increasing our industry’s energy productivity by:
Ø     Establishing financing mechanisms for both small and large manufacturers to adopt advanced energy efficient production technologies and processes which will allow them to be more productive and less fuel dependent, cutting costs, not jobs.
Ø     Spurring innovation in our manufacturing sector to decrease energy intensity and environmental impacts while increasing productivity. The bill establishes industry-led partnerships to develop industry-specific roadmaps to identify the breakthrough technologies necessary to reduce energy intensity and greenhouse gas emissions.   It also stimulates, through competitive grants to industry and small businesses, the development, deployment and commercialization of innovative energy efficient technologies and processes.
Ø     Expanding the number and expertise of the Industrial Research and Assessment Centers to better meet the needs of small and medium manufacturers.  The bill also provides for workforce training through paid internships at the centers for students to work with industries and manufacturers to implement energy efficiency technologies.
In addition, the legislation can create millions of new American jobs by supporting the domestic production of advanced energy technologies to fuel the growth of renewables and efficiency and capture the clean energy market.  By providing financing mechanisms for manufacturers to implement cost-competitive, energy efficient equipment and processes and to develop and deploy the innovative technologies that will be a critical element in accomplishing President Obama’s goals of overcoming the current economic, energy and climate crises.
Sen. Bingaman:  “Our country is struggling with some of the toughest economic challenges that most of us have ever seen.  In our manufacturing sector, we’ve lost nearly a million high-quality jobs in the last year, with more than 200,000 of those jobs gone in the last month alone.  It’s not just employment that our country is losing — the industrial foundation upon which our nation’s wealth has been built is eroding. This bill will help renew our nation’s industrial base into one that is more productive and less reliant on fuels of the past.”
Sen. Murkowski:  “We need to cut carbon, not jobs,” Murkowski said. “This bill will allow companies to improve their energy efficiency without hurting their bottom line. By spurring innovation in new energy efficient technologies, we hope to save manufacturing jobs, create new growth in the industry and move toward a cleaner energy future. The workforce training in this bill will also help grow the energy workers and technology we need to revitalize our economy and increase our energy security.” 
Sen. Collins: “This bill will provide much needed financing for manufacturers to adopt advanced energy technologies.  These investments will save companies on their energy bills for years to come, making them more competitive while also contributing to American energy independence.  It also would expand the successful Industrial Technologies Program (ITP) at the Department of Energy.   Over its lifetime, this program has helped improve 13,000 U.S. manufacturing plants resulting in approximately $23 billion of energy savings.  In the future, ITP estimates that for the pulp and paper industry alone about 57 percent savings in drying and 27 percent savings in pulping operations could be achieved. “
Sen. Stabenow: “Manufacturing helped create the middle-class of this country and it remains the backbone of our economy,” said Stabenow. “This bill will provide long-term energy solutions by helping our manufacturers develop green technology, reduce energy costs, and train the new green-collar workforce. By investing in a 21st century green manufacturing strategy, we can revitalize manufacturing across the country and create good-paying jobs.”
Sen. Snowe: “There has long been a void in the creation of a comprehensive, national energy policy that will meet the needs of our industrial sector and this legislation will go a long way in helping to advance the development of a 21st century manufacturing base,” said Senator Snowe.  “As we saw last summer, energy prices can be the difference between a business in the red or the black. These critical energy efficient investments will not only help to revive domestic manufacturing but also create and retain good paying jobs, reduce our demand for fossil fuels, and cut greenhouse gas emissions.”
Sen. Bayh: “This legislation will help American companies maintain their competitive advantage, while making needed investments in clean technology today and creating the advanced energy jobs of tomorrow. Indiana has the highest percentage of manufacturing jobs of any state in the country, and this bill will help Hoosier manufacturers compete head-to-head with foreign companies and succeed in the global marketplace." 
Sen Brown:  "We can reduce greenhouse gas emissions and create jobs at the same time," said Brown. "This bill would revitalize our nation's manufacturing base through investment in green energy technologies. Given the right resources, American workers and manufacturers can meet the economic and energy challenges before us.”
Sen. Pryor: “Investing in green will help get us out of the red,” Pryor said. “This bipartisan measure fuels innovation and economic growth while supporting manufacturers’ efforts to move to a cleaner, more energy efficient future.”
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