Udall a Windbag for Wind Power

Udall a Windbag for Wind Power


It’s become an unexpected political issue. Governor Mitt Romney says he opposes the wind production tax credit, which offers incentives for energy companies to produce wind power. President Obama, on the other hand, says he supports them. It’s one of many issues for voters in swing states, like Colorado, where wind power is in action. The tax credits are set to expire this year, and supporters, like Colorado Senator Mark Udall, say Congress must act fast to extend them. David Frey reports from Washington.

Listen to the story here: Udall Windbag

Senator Mark Udall has been something of a windbag lately.

Here he is speaking on the Senate floor recently talking about tax incentives for wind power in North Carolina.

[UDALL: “The wind industry has literally boomed in recent year. North Carolina like a lot of states has seen a tremendous growth in the wind manufacturing sector.”]

Here’s the Democrat talking about wind power in Vermont.

[UDALL: “Vermont has the second highest rate of new wind installations of any state in 2011.”]

And here he is talking about his home state of Colorado, where he says the turbine company Vestus has laid off a hundred workers in Pueblo and Brighton recently because of uncertainty about the future of tax credits for wind power.

[UDALL: “Look no further than Colorado for both the promise of wind energy but also the peril of Congressional inaction.”]

So far, Udall has made seventeen speeches in favor of the wind production tax credit. And, he says, he isn’t done.

[Udall: “I’m going to continue giving a speech on continuing the wind production tax credit every day I’m here in Washington until we extend it. Why? Because it’s key to America’s manufacturing future and it’s key to our capacity to have made-in-America energy. It’s also key to our economic recovery.”

The wind production tax credit is set to expire this year, and supporters, like Udall, say Congress needs to act now to extend it. Every delay results in more job losses in the wind power industry, they say, and if Congress doesn’t act soon, another wave of job cuts may be on the way. Supporters have dubbed this week “Wind Week.” They want Congress to act now, before it adjourns until after the elections.

Bob Keefe is with the Natural Resources Defense Council.

KEEFE: “We’re seeing layoffs almost every single days from wind companies, and not just the folks that operate these wind farms but all along the supply chain throughout the country announcing layoffs or slowdowns because there’s no certainty in the market. These wind companies have no clue what’s going to happen right now.”

 The wind incentives have become an unexpected campaign issue. President Obama reiterated his support for them at a campaign event in Golden, Colorado on Thursday. He says without them, 37 thousand jobs in the industry are at risk.  Republican Mitt Romney says the tax credits should end. Romney says the government shouldn’t be picking winners and losers in energy production. Many Republicans agree. Dozens of conservative groups, including Americans for Prosperity, have signed a letter to Congress demanding an end to wind credits. If wind power is viable, they say, it should prove itself on the open market, not by

“living off of special provisions in the tax code.”

The issue is particularly critical in some swing states, like Colorado, where wind power is growing.

Senator Udall:

Udall: “I think people are going to take notice. This seems to be tone deaf. The last time I looked, Governor Romney want be president. The last time I looked, Colorado is a swing state. The last time I looked, Colorado is a hotbed of renewable energy activity. The last time I looked, Governor Romney needs Colorado’s nine electoral votes. I think this could play a role in people’s decisions.”]

The issue has bipartisan support in Colorado’s Congressional delegation. Only Representative Doug Lamborn, a Republican from Colorado Springs, has come out against it. But no one has championed it as much as Udall, who has taken to the floor again and again, talking about wind power in states like Illinois and Iowa.

UDALL: “Some of the wind we produce in Washington doesn’t turn into anything. My goal is to take the wind I’m producing on the floor of the Senate and actually turn it into a result that will further strengthen our wind energy industry.”

And, Udall tells his fellow senators, get used to hearing more this windbag from Colorado until the measure comes up for a vote.

Udall: “I’m gonna continue coming to the floor every day until we finish the job.”