Iowans have reason to be optimistic. The state and the country are getting back to business, but the reality is the COVID-19 pandemic scarred our economy. Although Iowa businesses are challenged by a lack of workers, nationwide too many people continue to struggle with unemployment. In order to get our economy running at full capacity, it is important we get the nation back to work. It’s also an opportunity to invest in infrastructure we have long known was in need of repair.

Aligning infrastructure and recovery can put the nation on a path to a stronger, more resilient, and more innovative tomorrow. For the sake of all Iowans, those plans should not neglect opportunities to enhance our energy infrastructure.

Iowans have a well-established reputation of perseverance and a sense of community. We have also won acclaim in renewables and lower-carbon energy alternatives. The advanced clean energy manufacturing jobs that help fuel our rural economies can be a great asset in accelerating our state post-pandemic. However, these thousands of well-paying jobs and national respect did not come by chance. Iowa’s leaders in Congress have fought to build our robust clean energy sector and I hope that can continue.

For nearly 30 years, back when clean energy was just a whisper in political circles, Iowa’s lawmakers have been setting an example for how to encourage development and job creation in clean energy while staying true to conservative principles. Senator Chuck Grassley is even referred to as the “father of the wind energy tax credit,” having authored and helped to pass a law that created the first wind energy production tax credit in 1993. Since then, the wind power industry has created more than 10,000 well-paying jobs across Iowa. Moreover, a vibrant wind power sector has helped attract other companies across a range of related industries, spurring even more job growth and economic activity for our state. 

I recently had the opportunity to attend the ribbon-cutting of Iowa’s largest solar facility in Louisa County, capable of providing enough power for more than 20,000 homes. This project will inject millions into the local economy and is just the latest example of our state’s diverse energy portfolio.

Together these efforts are creating and protecting Made in America jobs. They are also laying the groundwork for a healthier, more resilient, and prosperous country for future generations. Investments in emerging technologies and energy infrastructure that improve the grid from generation to transmission, can keep us productive and avoid future natural disasters. Just earlier this year, Texas’s energy infrastructure could not keep up with demands and much of the state was left without power for days. We must prevent failures like this from happening in Iowa. 

Energy infrastructure is an essential component of day-to-day life in America. In order to remain safe and competitive, critical updates must be made. Including an efficient all-of-the-above approach to energy that makes the most of the country’s diverse renewable assets. Congress will continue having hard conversations about what recovery and investing in infrastructure looks like. As part of this discussion, I hope to tell Iowa’s success story in clean energy and I am committed to policies that continue to grow Iowa’s legacy.

Mariannette Miller-Meeks, a resident of Ottumwa, is served as the Director of the Iowa Department of Public Health from 2010-2014 and currently represents Iowa’s Second District in the United States House of Representatives.

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