Energy on the campaign trail: Romney talks coal, Obama chases wind

posted at 8:41 pm on August 14, 2012 by Erika Johnsen

President Obama has been making a concentrated swing through Iowa the past couple of days, and one of his biggest talking points while touring the undecided state has been about extending wind energy tax credits.

“My opponent and I disagree when it comes to homegrown energy like wind,” Obama said Monday in Boone, Iowa. “Wind power is creating new jobs all across Iowa. But Governor Romney says he wants to end the tax credit for wind energy producers.

“America generates more than twice as much electricity from wind than when I took office. That’s right. The wind industry supports about 7,000 jobs right here in Iowa. Without these wind energy tax credits, those jobs are at risk, 37,000 jobs across the country would be at risk.

Yes, overlooking the jobs that the wind industry has also lost in recent years, perhaps it does support 37,000 jobs — but those jobs are in turn supported by the federal government, a.k.a. the taxpayer. That’s why the wind lobby is flipping out so much about extending the production tax credit — wind is dependent on federal assistance for its survival. No idea that is as awesomely efficient and productive as green groups claim wind is should need the persistent lifelines that wind receives — all subsidies are always and necessarily meant to distort free-market signals, which means that they come at the cost of greater prosperity.

Mitt Romney also talked about energy on the campaign trail today, but focused his comments on supporting the coal industry in Ohio.

Talk about the magnificent promise of wind all you want, Mr. President — but the fact of the matter is that wind accounts for barely a fraction of our electricity consumption (and partly because utility companies are so often mandated to use a certain portion of renewable energy these days) while coal continues to provide for just about half of our nation’s electricity needs. You can’t force coal to go away just because it’s politically inconvenient for appealing to your environmental base. Perhaps that’s why the United Mine Workers of America has yet to offer its support for President Obama this time around?

The nation’s largest coal miners union has yet to make an endorsement for the upcoming presidential election after giving President Obama its full and early support four years ago — hinting it may sit out the race.

The UMWA says it will make an endorsement — or not — based on recommendations of its state councils, most of which will hold meetings in the next few weeks. The process likely will conclude by mid-September, said UMWA Communications Director Phil Smith.

The UMWA has a history of backing Democratic presidential candidates, but “it’s certainly an option that there could be no endorsement” this year, the spokesman said.


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