Energy Issues Could Be Critical In The Battleground States

Editor’s Note: EarthTechling is proud to repost this article courtesy of AOL Energy. Author credit goes to Phil Zahodiakin.

The most recent Wall Street Journal/NBC election poll found very few people who are undecided about their choice for president, which means the fight to win swing states will be ferocious. Could energy issues play a role in the outcome.

Clean energy advocates say the possibility has become a reality in at least one of those states – Iowa – and it promises to influence undecided voters elsewhere, as well.

obama solar power

image via the White House

“Certainly, economic issues will be front-and-center,” Jeff Gohringer, national press secretary for the League of Conservation Voters, told AOL Energy. “But energy will continue to be a focal point, as well.”

The July 24 poll found that 92% of registered voters already know their presidential selection. And an earlier, APAssociated Press NORC Center for Public Affairs Research (apnorc.org) survey – “Energy Issues: How the Public Understands and Acts” – found that party affiliation predicts consumer energy views more reliably than any other factor.

But that finding may be less applicable in states with significantrenewable-energy generation, manufacturing, and/or feedstock farming.

Iowa is one such state, and its senior senator, Chuck Grassley (R), recently joined Democrats in a Senate Finance Committee vote that will send a one-year extension of the wind-energy tax creditsto the full Senate. The tax credits, which are strongly supported by President Obama, passed 19-to-5.

Head Scratching, Jobs and Tax Credits

But four days before the Aug. 2 vote, a spokesman for Gov. Mitt Romney told the Des Moines Register that, as president, Romney would “allow the wind credit to die.”

In an interview with The Hill, Grassley said he had previously reached out to the Romney campaign to “help them” with ethanol, biodiesel, and wind energy issues, which resonate strongly in Iowa. So, the unexpected remarks from the Romney campaign “left Grassley dumbfounded,” said Gohringer.

“Romney,” Gohringer added, “is wildly out of step with Iowa’s entire congressional delegation and their constituents. And his radical position on the [production tax credit] for wind energy is causing a stir in every state with jobs that depend on it. His position would actually kill an estimated 37,000 jobs across the country.”

Sara Chieffo, legislative director at the League, told AOL Energy that there are 500 facilities across 44 states manufacturing wind turbines or their hardware, adding that “this is a huge footprint and a big driver for our economy. There isn’t any doubt in the public’s mind that clean energy will play a big role in helping create jobs.”

Chieffo also pointed out that the Finance Committee’s endorsement of the PTC (and the associated investment tax credit) demonstrates the strength of bipartisan support for renewable energy incentives in Congress.

For example, a Washington Republican, Dave Reichert, and an Oregon Democrat, Earl Blumenauer, have jointly offered House legislation to extend the PTC – and there are 25 Republicans among the 110 members co-sponsoring the bill (H.R. 3307), Chieffo said.

The AP/NORC survey, which was released in June, found that 78% of Republicans support policies allowing more drilling as compared with 47% of Democrats. That may herald a reprise of the “drill-baby-drill” school of energy rhetoric. But it will probably be less strident than it was during the run-up to the 2008 election, and there are two reasons why.

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