April 27, 2010 / 4:31 PM / 9 years ago

US lawmakers propose boost to clean energy exports

WASHINGTON, April 27 (Reuters) - A group of Democratic lawmakers on Tuesday proposed legislation to promote U.S. exports of clean energy technology, which they said are badly lagging behind those of China and Europe.

“The U.S. must be the leader in manufacturing and exporting clean technologies, not one that becomes dependent on foreign energy products,” U.S. Representative Doris Matsui, a California Democrat, said in a statement.

Clean energy comes from renewable natural resources, such as sunlight, wind and geothermal heat.

The U.S. Department of Energy has estimated U.S. exports of clean energy technology, also known as green technology, could reach $40 billion per year and help create more than 750,000 jobs by 2020, the lawmakers said.

“Right now, the global market for environmental goods and services is estimated at $700 billion ... At present, only six of the top 30 global companies that lead in this sector are American-owned. This must change,” said Representative Bobby Rush, an Illinois Democrat.

The proposed legislation would create a $15 million fund administered by the Commerce Department to increase the competitiveness of the U.S. clean technology industry, boost exports and promote policies aimed at reducing production costs and encouraging innovation and investment in the industry.

Lawmakers said the bill would help President Barack Obama reach his goal of doubling U.S. exports in five years.

“Initiatives such as the one proposed in this bill will help our country gain a competitive edge in the export of the technologies the rest of the world wants and needs,” Representative John Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, said.

The effort came as the United States mulls an international agreement to spur international trade in environmental goods and services by eliminating tariffs and removing other trade barriers.

Last week, U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk asked the U.S. International Trade Commission to investigate the economic effect of eliminating U.S. tariffs on imported environmental goods and determine whether U.S. environmental goods exporters might benefit from trade liberalization.

Its first report is due in October, followed by another in February 2011.

Reporting by Doug Palmer; Editing by Paul Simao

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