Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Obama & Romney Clear Differences On Wind Energy PTC

Jul 31: The Governors' Wind Energy Coalition (GWEC) issued a release highlighting that "Mitt Romney's presidential campaign came out yesterday (July 30) with its strongest opposition to date on extending a key wind industry tax credit, saying the presumptive Republican nominee will allow it 'to expire' and tying the issue to broader opposition to President Obama's support for renewable energy." GWEC said, "Romney had not shied away from criticizing Obama's support for renewable energy -- highlighting the loan guarantee to now-bankrupt solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, among other issues, at numerous campaign stops this year -- but the candidate until yesterday had avoided taking a firm position on the production tax credit [PTC] for wind, which is set to expire at the end of the year.

    According to the GWEC release, Romney's campaign said in a statement on July 30, "The President may believe that his economic plan 'worked' and that America wants to repeat the experience for another four years, but the facts don't back that up. Mitt Romney believes it is a time for a new approach to ensure our nation's energy independence. . . He will allow the wind credit to expire, end the stimulus boondoggles, and create a level playing field on which all sources of energy can compete on their merits. . . Wind energy will thrive wherever it is economically competitive, and wherever private sector competitors with far more experience than the President believe the investment will produce results." Member states of the GWEC include: AK, CA, CO, DE, HI, IL, IA, KS, KY, MD, MA, MI, MN, NT, NM, NY, ND, OK, OR, PA, RI, SD, & WA.

    Regarding energy issues, the Romney campaign website indicates that, "As the Obama administration wages war against oil and coal, it has been spending billions of dollars on alternative energy forms and touting its creation of 'green' jobs. But it seems to be operating more on faith than on fact-based economic calculation. The 'green' technologies are typically far too expensive to compete in the marketplace, and studies have shown that for every 'green' job created there are actually more jobs destroyed. Unsurprisingly, this costly government investment has failed to create an economic boom."

    Earlier in the day on Jul 30, GWEC indicates the Obama campaign targeted Romney's lack of support for wind energy in a conference call with officials from Iowa, Colorado, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- all swing states -- and a memo outlining the industry's contribution to the economy, citing industry estimates that the credit's expiration will cost 37,000 jobs nationwide. The industry supports 7,000 jobs in Iowa, 5,000 in Colorado, 6,000 in Ohio and 3,000 to 4,000 in Pennsylvania, according to the Obama campaign memo. The memo indicates, "In our states, windmills aren't imaginary. Wind energy is a real job creator and energy producer. For states like ours with storied manufacturing supply chains, wind energy is an emerging industry that's producing next-generation good-paying, manufacturing, middle-class jobs."

    GWEC reports on the Congressional activity regarding the PTC indicating that members of the Senate Finance Committee, which is aiming to produce an "extenders" package, met again to negotiate what provisions would be included in such a bill. Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) said after the meeting that the members had continued to make progress toward a deal, but he would not say whether a bill would be marked up this week before the Senate adjourns for its August recess. Other reports indicate that the Senate is set to vote tomorrow on tax-extenders legislation that would keep the PTC in place, and keep the wind industry growing.

    The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) issue a release saying it was "disappointed that the Romney campaign has come out with an anti-wind stance, particularly in Iowa, the state that gets 20% of its power from wind and the state with more major manufacturing facilities than any other." AWEA said that according to a statement to the Des Moines Register, the presidential candidate supports letting the very popular and bipartisan wind industry Production Tax Credit expire at the end of this year. A poll, conducted by Public Opinion Strategies for the American Wind Energy Association, shows that "an overwhelming majority of Iowa voters would be less likely to support an anti-wind candidate for office." A summary of bipartisan support for the PTC prepared by AWEA on June 27, indicates:

  • Supporters in both parties have been raising this issue since late last year as an urgent action item for Congress, including more than 100 cosponsors of HR 3307 (almost a quarter of them Republicans) and S 2201.
  • The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, National Association of Manufacturers, American Farm Bureau, and Edison Electric Institute are among over 400 organizations and companies endorsing the PTC extension.
  • A bipartisan coalition of 23 governors led by Gov. Terry Branstad (R-Iowa) supports extending the PTC. Gov. Branstad recently wrote The Wall Street Journal on its economic benefits.
  • Republican, Democratic and Independent voters broadly support wind power and its expansion.
  • Highlighting the bipartisan nature of wind power was a recent dialogue between Karl Rove, former senior advisor to President George W. Bush, and Robert Gibbs, former Press Secretary and advisor to President Obama at WINDPOWER 2012 in Atlanta, GA. As Rove stated, "You don't need moderates to get this done. You need conservative Republicans who say this means jobs to my district and a resource we've got plenty of. And you need Democrats to say this is a way to expand the range of options that we have as a country for energy."

    AWEA indicates that the 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour PTC only applies to projects that succeed in putting electricity on the grid. It expires December 31, 2012, unless Congress extends it. The PTC has not been allowed to expire since 2005, when President George W. Bush signed it into law as part of the Energy Policy Act. This successful policy over the past five years has incentivized $15.5 billion a year on average in private investment in the U.S. U.S. domestic content has expanded from 25% to over 60% today. Wind has installed 35% of all U.S. electric generating capacity, a close second to natural gas.

    Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune released a statement saying, "We'd all heard Romney had a history of shipping American jobs overseas, but this is just proof that he's for eliminating them altogether. Even with tens of thousands of American jobs on the line in the very states he needs to win in November, Romney is more interested in padding the profits of his big polluter campaign donors than helping American workers stay in their jobs. Romney has billionaire polluters financing his campaign, calling the shots on his policies, and even serving as his surrogates. So, it's no surprise that he's siding with big oil and big coal, and turning his back on a bipartisan effort to keep tens of thousands of Americans at work in wind energy jobs that protect our air, our water, and the health of our families. By opposing the Wind Energy Production Tax Credit, Mitt Romney has made it abundantly clear: he is not serious about creating American jobs."

    Access the lengthy report from the GWEC (click here). Access the Romney energy plan (click here). Access a release and Iowa polling results from AWEA (click here). Access the summary of bipartisan support from AWEA and facts about wind energy (click here). Access the Sierra Club statement (click here). Access the AWEA website for more information (click here). [#Energy/Wind, #Energy/Renewable]

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