Not long after the bankruptcy of Solyndra, Florida Republican Congressman Cliff Stearns said he didn’t believe the U.S. could compete with China in renewables. “Green energy isn’t going to be the solution” to economic growth, he explained.
Stearns, who oddly thinks that subsidies should go to mature companies rather than emerging industries, is one of the Congressional leaders investigating the Solyndra bankruptcy. Like many of his colleagues, he has used the opportunity to pan incentives for clean energy across the board, rather than ask how they can be more effective.
But those incentives to clean energy, which are dwarfed by historic government support of fossil fuels, are providing real, tangible benefits. When asked by Think Progress to comment on Stearns’ assertion that America can’t compete in clean energy, Iowa Republican Congressman Steve King responded by pointing to the 39 wind turbines just outside his property.
“I guarantee you there are more than that if I stop and look. In fact, I represent the number one renewable energy congressional district in all of America. When you add together the BTUs generated from ethanol, biodiesel and wind, nobody comes close out of 435 congressional districts. And I think we’re cutting edge on all three of those. I think we’re leading not just the nation, but the world in all three of those. There are other things China is challenging us on, but when it comes to clean, renewable energy, I’d say the fifth district of Iowa stands up against any country or any other congressional district.”
Indeed, Iowa has the second-most wind capacity installed in the country, with between 17% and 20% of electricity coming from wind throughout the state. As Iowa has scaled up wind installations — helped by the federal production tax credit, an incentive set to expire next year — the industry has supported 3,000 manufacturing and operational jobs. And the wind farms deployed around the state have provided $12.7 million in annual lease payments to Iowa landowners.
The state’s first renewable energy standard was signed into law by Republican Governor Terry Branstand in 1983. Since then, more than 200 companies have set up shop in the state, generating more than $50 million in revenues each year.
Branstand, who was voted back into office in 2010, is set to headline a Politico forum tomorrow in Iowa on the state’s energy future.
Cliff Stearns and some of the Republican presidential candidates may want to listen in before making any more judgements about why “green energy isn’t going to be the solution.”