Birthers. Climate Deniers. Now add Windbaggers.
May 11, 2011
The newest wedge issue for so called conservatives? It might be wind power.
Wind, after being the darling of the media, business and state governments for much of its history, has suddenly found itself on the receiving end of negative publicity, questions about its value as an energy source and even calls for an end to wind development.
I’ve posted here on the recent job killing anti-wind legislation in Wisconsin, and the attack on new-fangled socialist initiatives like Medicare and renewable energy in recent GOP budget proposals. In my neck of the woods, we’ve seen moves to outlaw offshore wind energy in the Great Lakes. (hasn’t gone anywhere, by the way)
What this boils down to, is that renewable energy is a threat to the business model of far-right conservatives like the Koch brothers, various fossil fuel industries, and a small but influential group of ideologically driven “think-tanks” that they fund.
– The Wisconsin State Legislature is considering a bill that would restrict the development of approximately $500 million worth of projects over the next two years. According to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Republican Gov. Scott Walker says wind costs too much and impedes on rural property rights. The legislature voted in March to suspend wind farm siting rules. The five-to-two vote tracked along party lines, with all five votes to suspend coming from Republican members;
– Texas comptroller, Republican Susan Combs, has decried wind as an expensive boondoggle that does not produce jobs. The state’s GOP-controlled legislature may limit the ability of local school districts to give tax abatements, which wind advocates in the state say will limit development in rural areas; and
– The 2012 extension of the production tax credit could be in jeopardy, given the budgetary concerns on Capitol Hill. Jon Chase, vice president of government relations for Vestas-American Wind Technology, told an AWEA finance and budget workshop in April, “All the credits out there are going to be looked at very closely. Everything is going to be on the table.”
You’ve got it. Oil company tax breaks are an important job creation tool of our economy. Incentives for renewables are a socialist boondoggle. It’s all so simply if you follow the money.
In the real world, wind power has emerged as one of the leading sources of new electrical capacity in the US and the world, in recent years.
The U.S. wind energy industry saw 35 percent average annual growth over the last five years and accounted for 35 percent of new U.S. power capacity in that period, according to the 2010 U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report. Its only rival in growth and new capacity has been natural gas. So either natural gas is alternative energy — or wind isn’t.
Following the death of bin Laden, and the sudden dearth of scary talking points, the right wing media will move to informing Aunt Tea bag and Uncle Dittohead that deadly wind and solar power threaten our family values, promote terrorism, subvert our children, and generally make the milk go sour, so plan accordingly. Still, most Americans aren’t buying it. According the the American Wind Energy Association –
“The fact is nine out of 10 voters – Republicans, Democrats and Independents – want more wind power, as we found in a recent poll,” says Elizabeth Salerno, AWEA’s director of data and analysis. “Specific to Republicans, AWEA found that 84 percent of Republicans believe increasing the amount of energy the nation gets from wind is a good idea.”