Chairwoman Marcy Kaptur Statement at the Domestic Manufacturing for a Clean Energy Future Hearing
Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur (D-OH), Chair of the Energy and Water Development, and Related Agencies Subcommittee, delivered the following remarks at the Subcommittee's hearing on Domestic Manufacturing for a Clean Energy Future.
Let me extend a warm welcome to our Members and distinguished witnesses. Today we will discuss how domestic manufacturing will anchor the build back better agenda.
The clean energy future of our nation, and our ability to reboot and energize the domestic manufacturing economy depends on the Department of Energy programs for inventing the future. We must create and even bring back good-paying jobs here at home. Addressing climate change is our portal to sustain life on earth for generations to come.
Headlines coast to coast tell the story. The earth is warming. The rate of increase of damaging weather events is unrelenting. We personally experience the impacts of this historic change. If we fail to address this hastening crisis, it is to our collective peril.
As we discussed at our first hearing, technologies and innovations are already helping address climate change. They have led to widespread deployment, consumer savings, and good-paying jobs. For example, solar installations in 2020 set a new record, and there’s now enough solar to power 17.7 million American homes.
For motor vehicles, 98 percent of the gasoline sold in the U.S. includes 10 percent ethanol, showing that renewable fuels as the future of agriculture positions to plant millions of acres of crop cover to absorb more carbon while restoring and regenerating soils with higher nutrient content.
Clean energy jobs are the future. American solar jobs have increased 167% over the past decade. According to Environmental Entrepreneurs, clean energy workers earn an average median wage of $23.89, 25 percent higher than the national median wage. Clean energy sector jobs are more likely unionized and come with better health care and retirement benefits.
Beyond installation jobs, our nation must manufacture the wind turbines and solar panels in the United States. We must squarely meet predatory competition posed by nations like China that do not hesitate to steal intellectual property. Our efforts must be dedicated to commercializing new technologies for electric vehicles, we must reinvent and retool our transportation and our domestic vehicle industry, and produce those vehicles here at home.
I applaud President Joe Biden for pointing out serious shortages of domestically produced silicon chips impacting our manufacturing supply chain. And while we continue to pursue innovation for “new age” energy technologies like advanced nuclear, carbon capture, hydrogen, and efficient grid transmission, we must plan ahead strategically so those industries and jobs are based in America.
Employment in U.S. manufacturing has continued to decline from 17.3 million jobs in 2000 to 12.2 million jobs in 2020. That is why we must urgently make investments in clean energy, manufacturing, and infrastructure to provide a much-needed opportunity for job creation and real wealth generation as distinct from financial markets that surpassed manufacturing as the origin of corporate profits in 1995.
Innovation will be critical to developing strategies for transforming energy-intensive processes, like buildings all around us and facilities that process water and wastewater, along with energy-intensive industries like steel, cement, refining, and auto and truck production.
Investing in manufacturing will create jobs for electricians, welders, roofers, plumbers, pipefitters, engineers, steamfitters, boilermakers, and many others. Training must be extended for workers too often left behind, so their skill levels will translate to a variety of jobs.
I am elated that President Biden supports a national strategy to develop a low-carbon manufacturing economy. And Secretary of Energy Granholm has been promoting place-based investment plans to help regions falling behind.
As you can see in the map, manufacturing job losses have disproportionally harmed specific places. We must create jobs that reinvest in areas and workers who too often have been left behind, including manufacturing workers in rural communities and blue-collar workers in closing industries. As people and communities succeed, so will America.