By Rod Boshart
Progressive America Rising via Iowa Farmer Today
Dec 9, 2012 -DES MOINES — With Congress facing an approaching deadline to extend a production tax credit critical to wind energy’s future, an Iowa-based environmental group issued a report Nov. 28 extolling the pollution-fighting, health and water conservation benefits of the state’s major source of renewable energy.
According to Environmental Iowa — a statewide, citizen-based advocacy group — Iowa’s current power generation from wind energy has had the equivalent “avoidance” benefit of displacing as much pollution as taking 1,187,000 cars off the road each year and has saved enough water not used to cool fossil-fuel production facilities to meet the needs of 98,100 Iowans.
Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., on Nov. 28 Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, joined Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., Rep. Jerry McNerney, D-Calif., and about 40 veterans who have found post-military careers in the wind energy industry to push for renewing the wind-production tax credit.
Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, also sent a letter to House Speaker John Boehner asking him to “give weight” to the Operation Free veterans’ effort to extend a tax credit that helps secure made-in-America energy and the jobs it creates.
Grassley said the issue is not whether to pass the U.S. Senate’s version or some other plan, “I believe the issue right now is the existence of the tax credit per se.”
King said House members are talking and exchanging ideas and at some point GOP leadership will chart a course of action to majority caucus members, but he said there weren’t any “strong indicators” what direction that might take.
“I can’t tell you that I’ve picked up a strong indication or a movement that I could lay any prediction out here at all,” he said.
“Hopefully, we’ll get ’er done,” King told the veterans during a teleconference.
In Des Moines, Environmental Iowa spokeswoman Amelia Schoeneman told a Statehouse news conference wind energy now provides almost 20 percent of Iowa’s electricity, ranking the state second in the nation in wind production.
If development were allowed to continue at the current pace under a congressional extension of the federal wind-production tax credit, she said Iowa could avoid additional global-warming pollution that would be equal to removing another 1,047,000 cars from roadways and save enough water to meet the needs of an additional 86,500 Iowans.
“Wind power is already replacing the dirty and dangerous energy sources of the past and creating a cleaner, healthier future for Iowans,” she said.
“We can continue on this path of cutting dangerous pollution and saving water if Congress acts now to extend critical wind incentives. Our message to Congress is clear — don’t throw wind power off the fiscal cliff. Our clean air, water and children’s future are too important to blow it now.”
Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie said congressional inaction already has cost about 500 jobs in Iowa.
Steve Falck with the Environmental Law and Policy Center said many planned wind-related projects will not move forward if production and offshore wind investment tax credits are allowed to expire at the end of the year.
Falck said “well-entrenched” petroleum interests who also receive federal incentives have the “upper hand” in Washington D.C., but he noted public support overwhelmingly favors wind energy as bipartisan pressure builds for Congress to approve the tax credit extensions.
Maureen McCue, a University of Iowa physician representing Physicians for Social Responsibility, said there are big health benefits associated with reducing the reliance on fossil fuels that contribute to lung, heart and other risks that can be deadly.
“Denial will not help our economy, it will not help our public health,” she said in advocating for more energy production from renewable sources.