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Transition 2012

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Energy Update: Candidates Spar on Iowa’s Wind Credit

by Newsteam Staff
August 10, 2012

Wind turbines in Desert Hot Springs, California July 11, 2011 (Mario Anzuoni/Courtesy Reuters). Wind turbines in Desert Hot Springs, California July 11, 2011 (Mario Anzuoni/Courtesy Reuters).


Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney recently said he would end a government tax credit that helps subsidize Iowa’s burgeoning wind industry.

Romney favors letting the wind energy production tax credit expire at the end of the year, saying such tax credits interfere with the free market economy (NPR) and if the wind industry is viable, it should be able to survive on its own without government help.

The comments could cost Romney votes in November (LAT), as Iowa voters — including life-long Republicans and farmers who earn thousands by putting wind turbines on their land — are already saying they will vote for President Barack Obama, who has strongly supported the wind industry.

Iowa Republican Rep. Tom Latham told the Associated Press that nearly 7,000 Iowans work in the wind industry and assailed the Romney campaign for “a lack of full understanding of how important the wind energy tax credit is for Iowa and our nation.” Iowa’s senior senator, Republican Chuck Grassley, told reporters he didn’t believe Romney really opposed the extension.

President Obama capitalized on the opening Romney’s comments offered him (USAToday), touting his green energy plans — and the jobs they create — in Colorado, where wind energy production is already growing into bug business.

The president campaigned heavily on domestic clean energy and reducing U.S. dependency on oil, especially foreign oil, in 2008. His administration says the U.S. has doubled renewable energy generation from sources like wind and solar since the president took office with generation from wind turbines increasing 27 percent in the last year alone.

For more on the candidates’ positions check out CFR’s Issue Tracker on The Candidates on Energy Policy.

Suggested Other Reading:

CFR’s Michael Levi writes that predicting growth in the renewable energy sector is difficult and inherently inaccurate when changes in policy are not taken into consideration.

U.S. carbon dioxide emissions from energy use during the first quarter of 2012 were the lowest in two decades for any January-March period, when emissions are usually at their highest, the U.S. Department of Energy says.

A study by the American Wind Energy Association warned that allowing the wind energy production tax credit at the end of 2012 would slash the number of U.S. wind energy jobs in half.

— Gayle S. Putrich, Contributing Editor

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