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Congressman Mike Quigley

Representing the 5th District of Illinois

Unleashing American Innovation in the Face of Climate Change

Apr 20, 2016

U.S. Representative Mike Quigley (IL-05) spoke to colleagues on the House floor about advancements in the renewable energy sector that have been developed as solutions to help address climate change.

Below is a video and transcript of the speech.


Mr. Speaker, 

As we celebrate our 46th Earth Day, it is critical that we recognize the opportunities that stem from addressing some of our most pressing environmental problems.

All too often, we hear the argument that environmental policies are agents of economic destruction. 

From the Clean Power Plan, to renewable energy development, and energy efficient technologies, every time a new environmental policy is proposed, we hear the same rhetoric: 

This will kill jobs, drive up costs, destroy trade, and stifle America’s ability to succeed. 

But the reality is those claims are simply not true.

They’ve been debunked and proven wrong time and again, but the truth doesn’t seem to matter when it comes to protecting our environment.

Without a doubt, one of America’s greatest assets is the ingenuity of its people. 

Throughout our nation’s history, American innovation has triumphed in the face of great challenges.

Unleashing that American innovation can bring big wins for both the environment and the economy. 

There is no better example of this than when we look at our renewable energy sector. 

For decades, America has chased the promise of clean, domestic energy. 

In recent years, costs for numerous critical clean energy technologies- wind power, solar panels, super energy-efficient LED lights and electric vehicles – have fallen dramatically. 

The accompanying surge in deployment has been impressive, to say the least. 

While these technologies still represent a small percentage of their respective markets, that share is expanding at a rapid pace and influencing other markets.

Today, the U.S. generates three times as much wind power and twenty times as much solar power as we did in 2008. 

This kind of thinking will help states meet the EPA’s requirements laid out in the Clean Power Plan. 

Compared with fossil fuel technologies, which are typically mechanized and capital-intensive, the renewable energy industry is more labor-intensive. 

This means that, on average, more jobs are created for each unit of electricity generated from renewable sources than from fossil fuels. 

In addition to creating new jobs, increasing our use of renewable energy offers other important economic development benefits. 

Local governments collect property and income taxes and other payments from renewable energy project owners, 

While owners of the land that wind projects are built also often receive lease payments ranging from $3,000 to $6,000 per megawatt of installed capacity. 

And a new study from the U.S. Energy Information Administration suggests that in the coming year, 

the booming solar sector will add more new electricity-generating capacity than any other energy sector including natural gas and wind. 

The more we support clean energy innovation and new technological ideas, the better positioned we are to reap the economic rewards. 

Examples of these wins are all around, leading to states and communities investing in clean energy innovation and developing smart, low-cost technologies to help reduce energy costs. 

On this front, my home state of Illinois is moving full steam ahead. 

The City of Chicago, for example, has partnered with utility companies and citizen groups to work on a new initiative to get one million “smart” thermostats into northern Illinois homes by 2020.  

The innovative partnership offers rebates that will nearly halve the cost of thermostats that allow residents to control the temperature of their homes via mobile devices. 

This helps us, once again, move the needle against climate change. 

Of course, clean energy technology isn’t our only energy innovation success story. 

Energy efficiency is truly our nation’s greatest energy achievement. 

Without the gains in energy efficiency made since 1973, it is estimated that today’s U.S. economy would require 60 percent more energy than we currently consume. 

And energy efficiency improvements over the last 40 years have reduced our national energy bill by more than $700 billion. 

Instead of working from the assumption that tighter regulations will hurt a government’s export share, we should focus on the edge we can gain from innovation.

This Earth Day, I challenge my colleagues to realize the opportunity that climate change provides us. 

And support solutions that allow us to turn what used to be daunting challenges into profitable opportunities. 

Thank you, and I yield back.