Mitt Romney has spent nearly a year downplaying the effectiveness of wind energy and other renewable sources of energy. “In place of real energy, Obama has focused on an imaginary world where government-subsidized windmills and solar panels could power the economy,” Romney wrote in a Columbus Dispatch op-ed.
Just days ago, his campaign doubled down on his fossil fuel platform by opposing any extension of the wind production tax credit. If the tax credit is allowed to expire at the end of 2012, as Romney hopes, that could cost the U.S. up to 37,000 jobs.
But while the former Massachusetts governor disparages wind, he changed his story on Wednesday, as he campaigned in the nation’s second largest wind state, Iowa:
ROMNEY: We have got to take advantage of America’s extraordinary energy resources: coal, oil, gas, nuclear, renewables, wind, solar, ethanol, you name it. We’ve gotta take advantage of all of them.
In Iowa, wind is an economic force, as noted in a recent editorial by the state’s largest newspaper. The Iowa wind industry supports 215 related businesses, employs more than 6,000 workers, and ranks only behind Texas in wind generation. Last year, Iowa generated 20 percent of its total electricity from wind.
Romney’s namecheck may have something to do with critiques he’s drawn from his own party — including Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (R), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), and Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) — and recent polling that finds a clear majority of Iowa voters (57 percent) are less likely to vote for a candidate that didn’t support wind power.