Merkley Introduces Bill to Create Green Jobs, Boost Manufacturing

WASHINGTON — Today, Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley introduced the Job Creation through Energy Efficient Manufacturing Act of 2017 in the U.S. Senate. The bill would create jobs and save money for manufacturers—particularly small and mid-sized manufacturers—by putting people to work retrofitting manufacturing facilities to be more energy efficient. 

Energy efficiency investments are job multipliers. Because retrofitting work can’t be outsourced and more than 90% of the materials used are made in the United States, energy efficiency investments help to grow American jobs and the economy.  

“If we don’t make things in America, we won’t have a middle class in America,” said Merkley. “Investing in energy efficiency retrofits for manufacturers is a great way to create jobs now, make our American small manufacturing businesses more competitive, and reduce energy waste.”

The potential energy savings in the industrial and manufacturing sector are huge. With investments in cost-effective energy efficiency measures, the industrial sector could reduce its $200 billion annual energy bill by 25% by 2020. In fact, the industrial sector has the largest portion of cost-effective savings, accounting for 40% of the $1.2 trillion in wasted energy that could be saved across all sectors of the economy by 2020.

By investing in energy efficiency, the American manufacturing sector will save money on energy costs, which can be reinvested in modernizing facilities, hiring new workers and making American manufacturing more competitive. And by reducing energy demand, energy efficiency improvements can strengthen our energy security and lower electricity prices, which benefits all users.  

Investments in energy efficient upgrades to manufacturing facilities will also create work for contractors and businesses in the construction sector that retrofit the buildings. According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, every $1 million invested in energy efficiency supports approximately 20 jobs in the construction industry. The Job Creation through Energy Efficient Manufacturing Act of 2017 also supports American industry by including a Buy America clause, and gives priority to projects that involve contractors who observe good labor practices, to make sure we don’t lose sight of the importance of quality jobs for everyone.  

The legislation would authorize $600 million in funding to a grant program at the U.S. Department of Energy. That program would provide competitive grants to State Energy Offices, energy efficiency nonprofits, and other groups to fund new or expanded energy efficiency projects for small and mid-sized manufacturing firms, which often lack the resources and staff that large manufacturers have to implement energy efficiency improvements. 

Over the last several years, Merkley has visited and heard from manufacturers around the state in his ongoing “Made in Oregon” tour.