Sierra Club To Wind Power: We Really Love You

If Windpower 2012 has been about anything, it’s been about the production tax credit (PTC). The industry has hauled out everyone from Heather Zichal, President Obama’s chief adviser on energy and environmental policy issues, to former Bush brain Karl Rove to sing the praises of the endangered subsidy.

Yeah, that’s right, Karl Rove.

wind-farm-California

image via Shutterstock

“My hope is that after the election people say, look, let’s start making some priorities and find some things that we can agree on, and maybe one of them is the production tax credit,” Rove said at the event on Tuesday, according to the American Wind Energy Association. “It is a market mechanism, you don’t get paid unless you produce the power, and we’re not picking winners and losers, we’re simply saying for some period of time we will provide this incentive.”

That’s a pretty amazing statement, given that Rove is an adviser to American Crossroads, the 527 organization that is dedicated to defeating President Obama and his green agenda.

Still, for my money the most intriguing development on the wind PTC front this week was the Sierra Club’s launch of “Wind Works,” a campaign in support of the tax credit. True, the Sierra Club has long been a wind backer. But for the club to double down on its support of the PTC now, at a time when the wind vs. birds issue is at a pretty fast boil and showing signs of threatening the widespread public support for wind power, that’s significant.

“The ‘Wind Works‘ campaign is the Sierra Club’s move to the next level in advocating for renewable energy jobs and ensuring America transitions to a clean energy economy,” said Dave Hamilton, director for clean energy of the Beyond Coal Campaign at the Sierra Club.

The Sierra Club added that it would put “significant resources” behind Wind Works: “Through a variety of tactics, ranging from grassroots organizing to paid media, the campaign will work to ensure the wind energy industry continues to be a job creator, and to remind lawmakers that wind works: for the economy, for the environment, and for America,” the club said.

The Sierra Club has 1.4 million members and a century-long history of defending the environment, so the value of its support here can’t be understated – especially given that in April, the club joined with the Center for Biological Diversity and Defenders of Wildlife in a lawsuit against the Obama administration over its approval of NextEra’s North Sky River wind farm in California. The groups claim the Bureau of Land Management isn’t adequately protecting the iconic California condor, golden eagles and other wildlife.

wind farm,sierra club,production tax credit

image via Shutterstock

Opponents of wind power were practically giddy over the lawsuit. The conservative Brietbart Big Government website said the suit showed “a growing groundswell of opposition to wind farms by green groups like the Sierra Club.”

They wish. In fact, the lawsuit and the Wind Works campaign together prove that the Sierra Club will call out the wind industry and Obama administration on specific, poorly sited projects while continuing to defend wind power as a vital contributor in the fight against climate change.

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

  • This sounds like a great plan.

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  • Well what we really need is a longer term policy on wind energy support with a phase out at some time in the future.  Then stick to it so that the industry, utilities and consumers will understand when they must be able to stand on their merits rather than tax credits that are not affordable.  In addition wind investments should get the tax treatments of REITs or pipelines (no double taxation and must distribute most profits).

    • Pete

      Alex, you make a great point about the tax treatment for wind (and other big renewable energy projects) — and in fact I’m working on a story right now about the master limited partnership proposal put forth by Sen. Chris Coons today that would try to accomplish exactly what you suggest. Thanks for reading.
      Pete Danko
      EarthTechling

  •  This is the “Wind Works” campaign page on facebook. It’s picking up a lot of momentum!

    http://www.facebook.com/windworks4texas