Well, that didn’t take long. Barely three weeks after the lobbying group American Energy Alliance vowed to make the wind tax credit “too toxic” for Republican legislators to support, two Republican governors joined with two Democratic governors to come through with a message of their own for Republican legislators. Spearheaded by longtime wind tax credit supporter Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), they held a press conference yesterday to “express optimism” that Congress will agree to extend the wind tax credit before it expires at the end of the year. Translation: “Extend the damn tax credit already, or take the blame for killing jobs in our states!”
Job-Killing Republican Legislators
In particular, Iowa Governor Terry Branstad’s prepared statement in support of the press conference was pretty brutal. Governor Branstad laid the recent loss of at least 500 wind power jobs in his state squarely at the feet of Congress, due to “the PTC not being extended earlier” this year (translation: due to Republican legislators dragging their heels).
Specifically, Branstad cited 400 workers laid off at a Siemans plant in Fort Madison, and 100 layoffs at a Clipper Wind Power facility in Cedar Rapids.
Soft Criticism from Hard Core Wind Supporters
Governor Sam Brownback of Kansas was a little more reticent but still got his digs in at the press conference. According to Zack Coleman of thehill.com, Brownback said:
“It’s just that I think there’s a more prudent ground to go here than just to end this [credit] that’s been a key thing to us solving our fiscal problems in this country. … This helps grow the economy.”
As for Senator Grassley, he blew up in spectacular fashion earlier this year when then-presidential Republican candidate Mitt Romney declared his opposition to the wind tax credit (“just like a knife in my back” were among the words Grassley saw fit to express in public). However, like Brownback, he was somewhat more circumspect in his prepared criticism of the aforementioned foot-dragging:
“In addition to jobs being lost, an important source of domestic, renewable energy was hurt. The wind-energy production tax credit is designed to level the playing field against coal-fired and nuclear electricity generation. The credit has been tremendously successful for renewable energy development and job creation.”
A Lot More Wind Supporting Governors Where Those Came From
Now, yesterday’s press conference might not seem like such a big deal for bipartisanship considering that only two Republican governors stepped up with Senator Grassley.
However, one of those two, Governor Branstad, happens to be chairman of the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, which includes a pretty decent mix of red and blue states.
At last count, the current membership included Arkansas, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Dakota, and Washington.
Note to the American Energy Alliance: Look who’s toxic now!
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Tina Casey specializes in military and corporate sustainability, advanced technology, emerging materials, biofuels, and water and wastewater issues. Tina’s articles are reposted frequently on Reuters, Scientific American, and many other sites. You can also follow her on Twitter @TinaMCasey and Google+.