by Noreen Nielsen
Mitt Romney takes his campaign to Iowa today, where he will stop at Acme Industries’ Pratt Boulevard shop to speak about small business and the economy. This event comes just a week after Romney officially endorsed letting the wind energy production tax credit (PTC) expire, a move that could kill over 37,000 jobs and disproportionately impact major wind energy states like Iowa.
It is a surprise that Romney would choose the Hawkeye state to highlight the issues of job creation and the middle class when his plans would roll back key investments in both. Iowa is the second largest producer of wind energy in the U.S., and first in overall wind energy jobs, which keep thousands of Iowans employed. Recent polling found that “more than half of voters (57%), including 41% of Republicans and 59% of Independents, would be less likely to vote for a candidate for President if that candidate did not support expanding American wind power generation.”
Republican Gov. Terry Branstad agrees. Last Thursday, he came out against Romney’s position on wind, criticizing the obvious “confusion” of the Romney team, and saying that he and his staff, “need to get out here in the real world to find out what’s really going on.” Branstad wasn’t alone in his criticism. Several other prominent Republicans, including Sen. Chuck Grassley and Rep. Tom Latham, voiced their concern for Romney’s lack of understanding on the issue. “It’s the wrong decision,” Latham said. And Iowa’s largest paper, the Des Moines Register penned a recent editorial criticizing Congress’ lack of action on extending the wind tax credit.
What could Romney have to say about the future of economic innovation in a state where he already plans to curb investment in a vital and developing industry? His typical vague rhetoric won’t cut it on an issue so valuable to Iowans, and further hedging would only again demonstrate his lack of understanding for the concerns of American workers.
Iowa’s Clean Energy Economy by the Numbers:
- Iowa ranks first in the nation in overall wind energy jobs, employing 6,000-7,000 workers.
- Iowa is the second in the U.S with the most wind generation and capacity in 2011, ranking behind only Texas.
- There are over 215 wind-related businesses operating in the Hawkeye State.
- Last year, Iowa was generating 20 percent of its total electricity from wind energy.
- Iowa is using wind to create enough power to supply nearly 1 million homes with electricity
- According to the National Renewable Energy Lab, Iowa’s wind resources could provide 44 times the state’s current electricity needs.
- The wind power currently installed in Iowa will avoid 7.3 million metric tons of carbon dioxide a year, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
- Since 1983, when Iowa passed a renewable energy standard, some $5 billion in wind investment have flooded the state, according to industry estimates.
- More than 81% of installed wind capacity in the United States is in Republican-led Congressional districts.
- The PTC helps leverage up to $20 billion in private investment annually. With this key tax credit in place, the wind industry has dropped costs by 90% over the last few decades.
- Across the rest of the U.S., the entire industry supports 75,000 jobs, with 30,000 in manufacturing.
- However, up to 37,000 of those jobs could be at risk due Congressional lawmakers’ inability to extend the tax credit, as well as 100,000 future jobs.
Noreen Nielsen is the Energy Communications Director for Progressive Media at the Center for American Progress Action Fund.