Today, the editorial boards for the Cedar Rapids Gazette and the Dubuque Telegraph Herald argued for extending tax credits for wind power producers – a measure Mitt Romney opposes . “The tax credit has helped our state become the nation’s No. 2 producer of wind energy — providing 20 percent of our electric power,” argues the Gazette. The Telegraph Herald, meanwhile, states that Romney “reveals a lack of understanding of the importance of wind energy.” Just a few days ago, the Des Moines Register said Romney, “may have tilted at the wrong windmills when he said he would allow wind energy tax credits to expire.”
One thing Iowans, other voters in Midwestern states and the wind energy industry have working against them is Mitt Romney, who opposes an extension of the wind production tax credit which has supported 7,000 Iowa jobs.
The hardworking men and women in the wind industry know their jobs are not ‘boondoggles,’ as Romney has derided them, but will create more clean energy production here at home and protect jobs. President Obama believes Congress should extend the production tax credit for wind energy companies right now to create American jobs and support American businesses and manufacturers.
See excerpts from the Gazette and Telegraph Herald editorials below:
Romney should revisit wind tax issue
Cedar Rapids Gazette // Editorial
…[W]e were disappointed that Romney didn’t talk about another issue important to Iowans, not to mention other states: wind energy.
Romney opposes an extension of the federal wind energy tax credit when it expires this year. That stand is at odds with the entire Iowa congressional delegation, including Reps. Tom Latham and Steve King and Sen. Chuck Grassley, all Republicans, as well as Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, who says Romney just needs a little more education on the topic. “I can understand why he objects to Solyndra and all the boondoggles (President) Obama has supported with the stimulus, but remember, the wind energy tax credit (was proposed) by Sen. Grassley and way preceded Obama. It’s a tool that’s helped us grow this energy … ” Branstad told a Los Angeles Times reporter.
We agree with the governor. The tax credit has helped our state become the nation’s No. 2 producer of wind energy — providing 20 percent of our electric power. The industry includes several plants that produce wind turbines or components. Nearly 3,000 turbines spin statewide. And the industry provides more than 6,000 good jobs for Iowans, according to the Iowa Wind Energy Association. Landowners who lease land for the turbines receive more than $14 million a year.
Extending the wind energy tax credit — which lowers, not eliminates, a company’s tax — for one year would cost $3.3 billion. That’s considerably less than the subsidies the fossil fuel industries continue to receive, although a fair comparison is difficult to make.
…It’s just too soon to pull the tax credit for wind power. Give the industry more time to prove itself.
Our opinion: On wind energy, Romney blows it
Dubuque Telegraph Herald // Editorial
The Mitt Romney campaign needs to walk back its words on wind energy. Beyond making a political blunder in a state that experts identify as being key to the presidential election, the Republican candidate reveals a lack of understanding of the importance of wind energy.
A spokesman for Mitt Romney recently told The Des Moines Register that 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."
Among the flaws in this logic is that subsidies give wind an unfair advantage. Over coal? Over natural gas? These industries have the infrastructure built over a century of being consumers' only option. As wind energy attempts to make inroads, the subsidies are merely helping it gain footing. The nation needs to expand its capacity for electricity. For a burgeoning industry like wind to help fill that gap requires a partnership with government.
That's happening in Iowa. Last year, wind provided about 20 percent of the state's electricity. And it has been an economic boon. The industry has created 7,000 jobs in Iowa and about 36,000 nationally.
…Romney should take another look at this issue; there's a lot for a presidential candidate to love. It's about jobs. It's about energy costs. It's about sustainability. Don't end the wind energy tax credit too soon.
And, in case you missed it, here’s an editorial from the Des Moines Register on August 5th arguing in favor of wind energy tax credits ….
Wind tax credits should be extended
Des Moines Register // Editorial
Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, may have tilted at the wrong windmills when he said he would allow wind energy tax credits to expire. The incentive for erecting wind generators is very popular in Iowa and other Midwestern states that are harnessing the clean power of the prairie zephyrs.
Iowa is especially big on wind. This state is ranked No. 2, behind only Texas, in wind generation capacity, and it employs more people than any other state building and maintaining wind towers and turbines. Indeed, Gov. Terry Branstad and the entire congressional delegation heartily support the wind production tax credit and want it extended.
Just because an industry is good for some states does not mean Congress should continue to favor that industry in the federal tax code. But there are good reasons why the tax credit should be extended for as long as necessary to get wind energy production to the point where it is competitive with other forms of energy production.
It makes sense to use the tax code to encourage investment in wind power, which has many things going for it. Wind is a renewable source of energy, and it causes no harm to the environment to harness its power to turn generators and produce electricity. Any movement away from burning fossil fuels to generate electricity — namely coal and natural gas — should be encouraged.
Meanwhile, the government should encourage research into developing an efficient way to store electricity generated by wind, and it should push the power industry to replace and expand the aging power grid. This nation desperately needs additional capacity to move electricity, including wind-generated, from where it is created to where it is needed. Resolving those issues will do as much or more than tax credits to encourage wind generation capacity in this country.
A campaign spokesman told the Register’s Jennifer Jacobs that Romney wants to end “stimulus boondoggles and create a level playing field on which all sources of energy can compete on their own merits.”
Wind energy tax credits were not created to stimulate the economy but to stimulate development of a renewable source of energy. The “level playing field” argument is fair, but only as far as it goes. The playing field is uneven now in large part because of more than a century of investment in exploration and infrastructure made by consumers who pay utility bills to companies that use coal, natural gas and nuclear fuel.
The federal government has long subsidized those traditional energy producers, whether the subsidies are counted as tax breaks, credits or direct spending. The oil and gas industry has since 1916 enjoyed tax breaks to offset the expense of exploring and developing domestic oil and natural gas supplies. Congress created the equivalent of a subsidy for the nuclear power industry in 1957 with the Price-Anderson Act that limits the industry’s financial liability in case of a nuclear accident, and it continues to pay for nuclear power research.
Tax breaks and spending on energy development cost the U.S. treasury $24 billion in 2011, according to a March report by the Congressional Budget Office. Of that, $2.5 billion went to fossil fuels and $2.1 billion went to wind, solar and geothermal energy. A major difference, the CBO report noted, is that while tax credits for renewables have been approved for limited periods, and often are allowed to expire, the tax preferences for fossil and nuclear fuel producers are permanent.
The federal tax code is riddled with breaks for all types of businesses, and Congress should eliminate some of them to bring in more revenue. But it makes sense to continue giving financial incentives to industries that develop clean energy and lessen our reliance on finite natural resources. That includes wind.