With Congress facing an approaching deadline to extend a production tax credit critical to wind energy’s future, an Iowa-based environmental group issued a report Wednesday extolling the pollution-fighting, health and water conservation benefits of the state’s major source of renewable energy.
According to Environmental Iowa – a statewide, citizen-based advocacy group – Iowa’s current power generation from wind energy has had the equivalent “avoidance” benefit of displacing as much pollution as taking 1,187,00 cars off the road each year and has saved enough water not used to cool fossil-fuel production facilities to meet the needs of 98,100 Iowans.
Environmental Iowa spokeswoman Amelia Schoeneman told a Statehouse news conference that wind energy now provides almost 20 percent of Iowa’s electricity, ranking the state second in the nation in wind production. If development were allowed to continue at the current pace under a congressional extension of the federal wind production tax credit, she said Iowa avoid additional global-warming pollution that would be equal to removing another 1,047,000 cars from roadways and save enough water to meet the needs of an additional 86,500 Iowans.
“Wind power is already replacing the dirty and dangerous energy sources of the past and creating a cleaner, healthier future for Iowans,” she said. “We can continue on this path of cutting dangerous pollution and saving water if Congress acts now to extend critical wind incentives. Our message to Congress is clear – don’t throw wind power off the fiscal cliff. Our clean air, water, and children’s future are too important to blow it now.”
Des Moines Mayor Frank Cownie said congressional inaction already has cost about 500 jobs in Iowa, and Steve Falck of the Environmental Law and Policy Center said many planned wind-related projects will not move forward if production and offshore wind investment tax credits are allowed to expire at the end of the year. Falck said “well-entrenched” petroleum interests who also receive federal incentives have the “upper hand” in Washington D.C., but he noted that public support overwhelmingly favors wind energy as bipartisan pressure builds for Congress to approve the tax credit extensions.
More importantly, said Maureen McCue, a University of Iowa physician representing Physicians for Social Responsibility, there are significant health benefits associated from reducing the reliance on fossil fuels that contribute to lung, heart and other risks that can prove to be deadly. “Denial will not help our economy, it will not help our public health,” she said in advocating for more energy production from renewable sources.
McCue said the water savings alone identified in the Environmental Iowa study (www.environmentaliowa.com/reports), coupled with the effects of cleaner air and less global-warming pollution, should convince people that there are unacceptable costs associated with the status quo.
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