Friday, January 25, 2013

Wind industry still needs tax credit to survive

By Joseph Cahill

Yes, I am from Iowa: born and raised, corn-fed and all. Foreigners to this Promised Land may only see the surface. Farms do cover much if not most of the state. Corn is a major agricultural staple to Iowa and the whole country. Though farmers suffered last year because of the drought, jeopardized Iowa farms include more than those raising crops.

At the end of 2012, the wind production tax credit (PTC) would have expired unless lawmakers extended it. With all attention focused on avoiding the Fiscal Cliff, Congress extended the PTC for another year. The credit is crucial to the wind industry’s survival, whose survival is crucial to Iowa and the planet.

While Iowa recently lost second place in wind energy production to California, 20 percent of our electricity comes from wind—more than any other state. Iowa also has the most jobs related to wind energy. Had its PTC expired, the American wind industry would have come to a screeching halt.

As fuel prices rise and obtaining oil becomes as big a political challenge as an environmental one, the United States clearly needs to jump head-first into an independent, clean energy plan. Wind energy’s impact compared to traditional energy sources like oil drilling and burning coal is relatively small. Wind turbines do not rely on fossil fuels, which pollute the air and one will never leak nearly 5 million barrels of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico. Wind energy provides clean, stable and renewable energy; it is a win-win-win scenario. So why not continue the subsidy?

Opponents of the wind PTC often argue that we are giving too much money to an industry that doesn’t produce commendable results. Try telling that to over 1 million Iowan homes that wind energy powers and the 6,500 Iowans it employs. Of course the wind industry doesn’t compare to the monolithic oil and coal companies, but they first boomed without competition from other energy sources for decades and remain cheaper for now. Traditional energy industries have also existed long enough to develop a sufficient infrastructure, which the wind industry lacks. Cutting the wind PTC would only set back the advances made by Iowa and America, a step we can’t afford to make.

Now more than ever, it is time to support American labor and innovation. It is time to help create sustainable jobs for our families and friends. It is time to break free from America’s crutch on foreign oil. It is time to make Iowa the model for America, for the world as a leader in wind energy production.

Being from Iowa, it may seem difficult to find things to brag about compared to seemingly more glamorous states, but when it comes to wind energy, we are near the top. We get more of our electricity from wind than any other state. That is why we as Iowans should take pride in wind energy and support the wind PTC. Being from Iowa doesn’t make you a farmer. And being an Iowan farmer doesn’t mean you only grow corn, soybeans and hogs.

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