Obama Attacks Romney on Wind-Energy Stance

Source: By Laura Meckler, Washington Post • Posted: Friday, August 10, 2012

Agence France-Presse/Getty ImagesPresident Barack Obama speaks during a campaign event at the Colorado State Fair grounds in Pueblo, Colo., August 9, 2012.

PUEBLO, Colo. –President Barack Obama assailed rival Mitt Romney Thursday for opposing tax credits for wind energy producers, a vulnerability for the Republican in Colorado and Iowa, two battleground states that have thousands of good manufacturing jobs tied to the nascent industry.

“Colorado, it is time to stop spending billions in taxpayer subsidies on an oil industry that’s already making a lot of profit, and let’s keep investing in a clean energy industry that has never been more promising,” Mr. Obama told a rally here.

Critics say the wind-energy tax credit, which a Senate committee voted last week to extend at a three-year cost of $12 billion, isn’t a good use of taxpayer funds.

Mr. Obama said that 37,000 U.S. jobs, 5,000 in Colorado and maybe hundreds in Pueblo, would be at risk if the tax credit were to expire. In Iowa, another competitive state in the presidential race, the industry supports some 5,000 to 7,000 jobs statewide.

The world’s biggest wind turbine maker, Vestas, of Denmark, has four factories in Colorado, including one in Pueblo. In addition, smaller companies in the supply chain depend on the industry, such as Walker Components of Denver, which makes cables for Vestas wind turbines.

Mr. Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, caused a stir in Iowa when his campaign made clear that he would allow the wind tax credit to expire. A campaign official said Thursday that Mr. Romney does not think that government should prop up industries. “Industries succeed when they are pushed by market forces and competition to become more efficient and effective, not when they are shaped by and dependent on government support,” the official said.

Campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said that Mr. Romney supports wind power but said the industry has lost jobs “under President Obama’s approach of massive subsidies and handouts.” Ms. Henneberg had no comment as to why Mr. Romney supports subsidies for oil companies

Mr. Romney’s position prompted consternation from some Iowa Republicans.

“We need to win Iowa this time. President Obama thinks it’s a must-win state for him, and I think it’s a can-win state for Mitt Romney, but this wind piece…” Rep. Steve King said last month.