Chilly winds of resistance are blowing against Mitt Romney's opposition to extending the Wind Energy Tax Credit that is about to expire at the end of this year. Growing numbers of Republicans are coming out in support of the extension of the tax credit extension saying it will create over 70,000 news jobs, especially in certain swing states such as Iowa. Iowa generates 20% of its electricity from wind, which supports over 215 businesses, and 6000 workers in Iowa alone. I have four articles here to help bring us up to date.
In Think Progress, Rebacca Leber In Iowa, Romney Blows Past His Record on Wind Energy just reported that Romney gave a new stump speech this morning, in Iowa, suggesting we need "all forms of energy," no longer mentioning his year long opposition to President Obama's "green energy" programs, including the Wind Energy Tax Credit, just passed by the Senate Finance Committee with help from Senator Charles Grassley, (R) Iowa.
Mitt Romney has spent nearly a year downplaying the effectiveness of wind energy and other renewable sources of energy. “In place of real energy, Obama has focused on an imaginary world where government-subsidized windmills and solar panels could power the economy,” Romney wrote in a Columbus Dispatch op-ed.
Just days ago, his campaign doubled down on his fossil fuel platform by opposing any extension of the wind production tax credit. If the tax credit is allowed to expire at the end of 2012, as Romney hopes, that could cost the U.S. up to 37,000 jobs.
But while the former Massachusetts governor disparages wind, he changed his story on Wednesday, as he campaigned in the nation’s second largest wind state, Iowa:
ROMNEY: We have got to take advantage of America’s extraordinary energy resources: cola, oil, gas, nuclear, renewables, wind, solar, ethanol, you name it. We’ve gotta take advantage of all of them.
Romney’s namecheck may have something to do with critiques he’s drawn from his own party — including Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (R), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) — and recent polling that finds a clear majority of Iowa voters (57 percent) are less likely to vote for a candidate that didn’t support wind power.
A growing number of Republicans are pushing back on Romney's opposition to job creation projects in their states.
WTSP News, of Tampa Bay Florida, reports, Mitt Romney's Attack On Green Jobs Has Risks
DENVER - Mitt Romney's presidential campaign has been savaging what it calls President Barack Obama's "unhealthy" obsession with "green jobs." ...Justin Sink, of the Hill, also notes this change in Romney's stump speach, in Romney Steers Clear of Wind Energy Tax Credit On Stump in Iowa Sink also describes President Obama's strong support of this wind energy bill, and green jobs in general.
Republican Rep. Tom Latham, R-Iowa, noting that nearly 7,000 Iowans work in the wind industry, assailed the Romney campaign for "a lack of full understanding of how important the wind energy tax credit is for Iowa and our nation." Iowa's senior senator, Chuck Grassley, told reporters he didn't believe Romney really opposed the extension, and he joined five other GOP lawmakers in voting for it in the Senate Finance Committee.
But critics contend that Romney, who counts members of the fossil fuels industry as major financial supporters and relies on the head of an oil company as his energy adviser, has backed himself into a corner. "I think it's really a knee-jerk reaction to what this president has done," said Jeff Gohringer, a spokesman for the League of Conservation Voters. "He (Romney) is actually going to states and advocating cutting thousands of their jobs."
Surveys show the industry's popularity. A Gallup poll in March found Americans nearly twice as likely to favor wind and solar energy as coal or oil. The American Wind Energy Association released a poll last month showing that more than half of Iowa's voters say they would not back a presidential candidate who did not support expanding wind power. A January poll by Colorado College found that a majority of voters in six Western states believe that expanding renewable energy will create more jobs.
Tom Lawrence, of the New Republics describes U.S Rep Kristi Noem, (R-S.D) continued sponsorship of this bill, despite Romney's opposition, Noem Told Looming Tax Credit Loss Would Hurt Wind Industry
Mitt Romney was campaigning in Iowa on Wednesday, but the presumptive Republican nominee steered clear of his campaign's controversial announcement that they would end a tax credit for wind energy that remains extremely popular in the pivotal swing state.
"We got to take advantage of all of America's energy sources," Romney said, launching into a list that included coal, natural gas, solar energy, and wind.
But Romney did not delve into his campaign's stated opposition to the wind tax credits that have provided a small energy boon in the state. The wind energy production tax credit will lapse at the end the year unless Congress extends it, and Obama is pushing lawmakers to renew the credit. New wind project installations have fallen off sharply when the credit has lapsed in past, which last happened in 2004.
The Iowa Wind Energy Association has estimated letting the tax credit expire could mean the loss of 37,000 jobs in the state, and prominent Republicans - including Iowa Gov. Terry Brandstad and Sen. Chuck Grassley - have been vocal proponents for its renewal.
“Mitt Romney is virtually the only person in the state that thinks ending tax incentives for wind energy is a good idea,” said Navin Nayak, a spokesman for the League of Conservation Voters, in a statement. ... "President Obama’s policies have allowed businesses in the energy industry to grow — and a loan supported by the President has directly helped Heron Wind produce two to three wind turbines," the president's campaign said in a statement. "President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy is making America more energy independent by reducing our dependence on foreign oil and investing in renewable oil."
If the tax credits, which are set to expire at the end of the year, are not extended, the wind power industry will be severely harmed. Companies may be forced to cancel orders, halt projects and lay off employees, Noem heard during a meeting with representatives of companies that produce and sell wind power, as well as firms that support the growing industry. The Republican congresswoman met with them at Mitchell Technical Institute.Both Senators Charles Grassley (R-IA), and Olympia Snow, (R-ME), joined with Senate Democrats earlier this week, when the Senate Finance Committee passed a one year extension of the bill. Senator Grassley says he expects the bill will pass before year end.
South Dakota became the first state in the nation to generate more than 20 percent of its state-produced electricity from wind.
Noem supports a four-year extension of the PTC. She has circulated a letter to the freshman class of the House and said she has tried to educate them, since some representatives do not have wind power production in their districts and are uninformed on the issue. .... Noem co-sponsored the American Renewable Energy Production Tax Credit Extension Act, which would extend the PTC for wind energy for four years. But she said a one-year extension may be more realistic with the current mood in Congress. ...
Every 100 wind towers are equal to a $50 million ethanol plant in local dollars spent, Sersheim said. All those numbers were greeted with interest by Noem, but she was also told the good news will halt if the PTC is not extended. ...
“Since the Wind Turbine Technology program began at Mitchell Tech, we have been able to assist our graduates in finding great jobs in rural South Dakota in the wind industry,” he said. “These jobs come with good wages, and the employees support their local economies because of that. Our concern is that if the production tax credit is not renewed, these opportunities will be diminished.
Get out your popcorn folks, as we seem likely to get a close-up view of a yet another Mitt Romney flip-flop, now that Romney, and his his campaign realizes that Iowa is a vital swing state and a growing number of Republican politicians, editorialists, and voters are rejecting his views.
11:35 AM PT: Here's an update from the New York Times
DES MOINES — Seeking support in the swing state of Iowa, Mitt Romney on Wednesday called for developing a laundry list of energy resources that included wind power, but he pointedly did not mention that he opposes a tax credit for the wind industry that the state’s Republican leadership strongly favors.
Gov. Terry Branstad and members of Iowa’s Congressional delegation have criticized Mr. Romney in recent days for not backing a longstanding tax break for wind energy in a state where the industry employs about 7,000 workers and supplies 20 percent of the kilowatts.
Mr. Branstad told Iowa reporters that the Romney campaign suffered from “confusion” over the issue and that he hoped to talk with Mr. Romney so he would become “educated.” On Wednesday, Mr. Branstad was in a different part of the state, and a senior Romney aide said he did not think they had communicated.