Romney Anti-Wind Stance: A Swing State Problem?

Nobody would argue that there are great masses of voters across the land staking their presidential votes on how Mitt Romney and Barack Obama stand on the production tax credit for wind power. But there might be a few in some key states, and those voters now have a clear choice on the issue.

The Romey campaign came out Monday firmly against extending the PTC, seen by the industry as vital to its continued growth and supported by a number of Republicans in states where wind power has been a jobs booster.

obama iowa romney

President Obama at a Siemens turbine plant in Fort Madison, Iowa, in 2010. (image via Siemens)

One of those Republicans is Rep. Tom Latham, whose state of Iowa has become the No. 2 wind power producer in the U.S. and a center for wind power manufacturing.

“I’m disappointed that the statement by Governor Romney’s spokesperson shows a lack of full understanding of how important the wind energy tax credit is for Iowa and our nation,” Latham said in a statement released soon after the Romney camp’s declaration of opposition. “It’s the wrong decision. Wind energy represents one of the most innovative and exciting sectors of Iowa’s economy. Nearly 7,000 hardworking Iowans are employed by over 250 businesses associated with the wind energy industry in our state….  I invite Governor Romney to step forward and re-evaluate the statement issued by his campaign spokesman.”

The “statement” referenced was made Monday by Shawn McCoy, a spokesman for Romney’s Iowa campaign, who told the Des Moines Register  Romney “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.”

President Obama has been a strong advocate for the tax credit. Despite having what qualifies in Washington these days as bipartisan support, efforts by wind power proponents to extend the credit beyond its Dec. 31 expiration have stalled in the Senate, where the requirement of 60 votes to pass legislation has proved insurmountable. The credit, worth 2.2 cents for every kilowatt-hour of power produced, generally has run for two years but hasn’t been allowed to expire since 2004.

Every time the tax credit has expired, the wind industry has gone into virtual hibernation – and that’s the forecast again from the American Wind Energy Association. It says 37,000 jobs could be lost if the PTC doesn’t gain an extension, and soon.

romney iowa wind

image via Romney for President

The PTC might seem an unlikely player in a national election focused on the state of the economy, but in what could be harrowingly tight states, even shifting a very small percentage of votes could make a real difference. That’s because in some states — in Iowa, for instance — wind is seen as a jobs issue, and it’s very popular: Public Opinion Strategies, which polls for Republican candidates, reported recently [PDF] that in the Hawkeye State, “More than half of voters (57%), including 41% of Republicans and 59% of Independents, would be less likely to vote for a candidate for President if that candidate did not support expanding American wind power generation.”

Colorado is another swing state where a strong anti-wind stand like Romney’s could be a factor. There, the Denver Post noted Monday that Vestas has said it would likely be forced to lay off most of its Colorado workers – 1,700 people at facilities in Brighton, Windsor and Pueblo – if the tax credit isn’t extended. In Colorado, like Iowa, support for wind is bipartisan; Republican Reps. Cory Gardner and Scott Tipton have both come out in favor of the PTC.

2 Comments

  • Reply August 4, 2012

    Albastru Voronet

     Windmills kill nearly half a million birds a year, according to a
    Fish and Wildlife estimate. The American Bird Conservancy projected that the
    number could more than double in 20 years if the administration
    realizes its goal for wind power. For years, the wind energy industry
    has had a license to kill golden eagles and lots of other migratory
    birds.
    Over the past two decades, the federal government has
    prosecuted hundreds of cases against oil and gas producers and
    electricity producers for violating some of America’s oldest
    wildlife-protection laws: the
    Migratory Bird Treaty Act and EagleProtectionAct.
    But the Obama
    administration has never prosecuted the wind industry despite myriad
    examples of widespread, unpermitted bird kills by turbines.
    Last
    June, the Los Angeles Times reported that about 70 golden eagles are
    being killed per year by the wind turbines at Altamont Pass, about 20
    miles east of Oakland, Calif. A 2008 study funded by the
    Alameda County Community Development Agency estimated that about 2,400
    raptors, including burrowing owls, American kestrels, and red-tailed
    hawks—as well as about 7,500 other birds, nearly all of which are
    protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act—are being killed every year
    by the turbines at Altamont.
    So keep on pushing on this “green
    energy” while species are going extinct because people refuse to see the
    main reason why we are running out of fuel: OVERPOPULATION. We
    shouldn’t focus on how we can rape our planet of more resources we
    should focus on reducing the world population and then all the problems
    will be solved.
    Check this out: http://www.vhemt.org/

    • Reply August 4, 2012

      Pete

      Most conservation groups, including the American Bird Conservancy, agree that utility-scale wind power is not inconsistent with species protection — and, in fact, believe that it is a necessary contributor to our energy future in order to cut greenhouse gas emissions. The key is good siting. See all our wind/bird coverage here: 
      http://www.earthtechling.com/tag/birds/

      Pete Danko, EarthTechling

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