The Senate may have a chance to redeem itself – at least in the eyes of clean energy advocates. On the heels of yet another defeat for the common-sense energy efficiency bill from Senators Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Rob Portman (R-OH), which crumbled under the weight of election-year grandstanding and toxic amendment-forcing, the Senate moved swiftly to take up consideration of a package of expired tax credits. This package includes critical incentives for the wind industry, including the Production Tax Credit and the Investment Tax Credit, which were allowed to expire at the end of last year.
These credits should be extended immediately because they provide critical support to our growing renewable energy industry. Just recently, the National Climate Assessment made all-too-clear the devastating impacts that climate change is already wreaking on our country. Wildlife populations are being decimated by the impacts of climate change. Species like the iconic moose populations of Northeastern U.S., which last year saw huge numbers of their calves killed by exploding tic populations; or the endangered loggerhead sea turtles, who may be wiped off the map by the impact of rising summer temperatures on their eggs. If we hope to preserve our natural heritage and wildlife for future generations to cherish and enjoy as we have, we simply cannot afford to wait to combat climate change. Our power sector is our single largest source of carbon pollution – meaning that if we are seriously going to take action to avoid the worst of the worst, we must move swiftly to transition to lower- and zero-carbon sources of energy. Like wind.
The Clean Way Forward
And these credits are critical for the wind industry. Although on-shore wind power has grown substantially in the U.S. in the past decade, creating jobs and lowering pollution along the way, the wind industry is still a fledgling sector in our economy – one that hasn’t enjoyed the century-plus of public subsidies that the oil and gas industry has. (Check out NRDC’s latest fact sheet showing how subsidies to the oil and gas industry cost U.S. taxpayers tens of BILLIONS of dollars every year, here.) And we haven’t even begun to tap the vast potential of offshore wind energy — the National Renewable Energy Laboratory says there’s enough wind power potential off our coasts to provide four times the amount of power we currently generate in the entire country! (Find more info on offshore wind here.)
We need to change this dynamic by shifting support to industries that don’t pollute—and we need to do it NOW. Let’s hope the Senate can muster the will to extend these important credits and ensure our wind industry has the support it needs to provide clean, renewable energy for centuries to come.
You can help protect sea turtles, along with many other species, by standing up for clean energy. You can sign the National Wildlife Federation’s petition for a clean energy future here.
Image source: Profmauri/Wikipedia Commons