Now that Mitt Romney’s campaign has officially declared the candidate’s desire to kill tax credits for wind while maintaining tax credits for the mature oil and gas industries, Midwestern Republicans are not happy.
Iowa Republican Representative Tom Latham said Romney’s decision “shows a lack of full understanding of how important the wind energy tax credit is for Iowa and our nation.”
And Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, the man working behind the scenes to get an extension of the tax credit for wind, said he thinks “people that didn’t know what they were doing said it.”
In an interview with Radio Iowa today, Republican Governor Terry Branstad also had strong words for Romney’s campaign, saying they “need to get out here in the real world and find out what’s really going on” before abandoning support for the industry. The wind industry supports 7,000 jobs in Iowa and makes up 20 percent of the state’s electricity.
Branstad said he’d like to speak with Romney personally about the issue:
“I hope to have that opportunity…. The statement has been made by somebody involved in his campaign, not by Governor Romney. And I think there’s a confusion on their part.
“We think it needs to be continued, not forever, but it does need to be continued for a while and the result is it’s been a very good thing for Iowa in terms of 20% of our energy is now generated by wind. We now have a lot of farmers that receive rent from having wind turbines on their property and we have a lot of jobs associated with it so we think he needs to be educated as to how important this is and I’m hopeful that we can see.. they’re lumping the two together and they need to understand there is a differential… And Senator Grassley is working really hard to get this extended.”
Reporter: “But on his campaign website for months, he has called them wind mills, he doesn’t call them wind turbines and he says they are as economically unproductive as solar energy.”
Branstad: “They don’t understand. You’ve got a bunch of people that have put the website together that are a bunch of east Coast people that need to get out here in the real world and find out what’s really going on.”
The wind tax credit, which has helped the wind industry drop costs by 90 percent and compete with the heavily subsidized coal and gas sectors, is set to expire at the end of this year. Already, wind companies are laying off employees and cancelling factories. Navigant Consulting estimates that up to 37,000 jobs could be lost if the credit is allowed to expire.
Fellow Republicans aren’t just concerned about the economic impact. They’re also concerned about potential political fallout in a region where wind is such an important piece of the economy. Speaking to the Wall Street Journal, Iowa Republican Representative Steve King implied he thinks the tax credit issue could have an impact:
“We need to win Iowa this time. President Obama thinks it’s a must-win state for him, and I think it’s a can-win state for Mitt Romney, but this wind piece.…”
He faded off without finishing the sentence — unsure what Romney’s stance on wind will do to the candidate’s political prospects.