DES MOINES, Iowa--On a visit Wednesday to the country’s second-largest wind-producing state, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney talked about the importance of renewable-energy sources but did not address his opposition to extending a federal wind tax credit beyond this year.
Speaking in a high school auditorium, Romney talked about energy development as part of his five-step plan to strengthen the middle class (the other four steps are improving education, expanding trade, cutting the deficit, and championing small business).
“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 got to take advantage of all of them. And we have an enormous advantage relative to other countries,” Romney said. He did not take questions from the audience or the media.
The wind tax credit costs the federal government $1.6 billion annually and is due to expire at the end of this year. About 7,000 people work in the wind-energy sector in Iowa. The state could lose up to 3,000 jobs if the tax credit is not renewed, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Asked where Romney stood on the issue last week, his Iowa spokesman, Shawn McCoy, told the Des Moines Register, “He will allow the wind credit to expire, end the stimulus boondoggles, and create a level playing field on which all sources of energy can compete on their merits. Wind energy will thrive wherever it is economically competitive, and wherever private-sector competitors with far more experience than the president believe the investment will produce results.”
Romney’s position has put him at odds with leading Iowa Republicans. In a Radio Iowa interview last week, Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad attributed Romney’s stand to “confusion” among “a bunch of East Coast people.” Branstad added, “He needs to be educated as to how important this is.”
Branstad also noted that the author of the tax credit was Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa. Grassley said last week that the wind-power credit shouldn’t be singled out for elimination before there is a broader debate about reforming the tax code.