Obama Draws Contrast With Romney on Wind Energy Tax Credit

Source: By JACKIE CALMES, New York Times • Posted: Friday, August 10, 2012

PUEBLO, Colo. – Speaking not far from a wind turbine manufacturing plant here on the hot plains, President Obama on Thursday contrasted his support for keeping alive an expiring tax credit for wind energy producers with the opposition of Mitt Romney to that subsidy and others for clean energy alternatives to oil.

Mr. Obama’s attacks followed days of veiled criticism of Mr. Romney’s stance by Republican leaders in Colorado and Iowa, both election battlegrounds that are among the leading states in trying to harness wind power. The issue dogged Mr. Romney on Wednesday in Iowa and last week in Colorado.

“The wind industry supports about 5,000 jobs across this state,” Mr. Obama told about 3,500 people crammed into a cavernous building on the state fairgrounds in Pueblo. “Without those tax credits, 37,000 American jobs, potentially including hundreds of jobs right here, would be at risk.”

With the crowd’s applause drowning out his words, Mr. Obama said the country should stop spending $4 billion a year to subsidize a profitable oil industry and should instead invest in the promise of clean-energy alternatives to compete with China and other countries.

The tax credit has been repeatedly extended by Congress and presidents for two decades, but it is scheduled to expire at the end of the year. Mr. Romney’s campaign recently said that he would let the credit die because it amounted to a violation of free-market principles, a position that is popular with Tea Party conservatives if not with clean-energy proponents.

Amanda Henneberg, a spokeswoman for the Romney campaign, said: “Unfortunately, under President Obama’s approach of massive subsidies and handouts, the industry has lost 10,000 jobs while growth in wind power has slowed every single year of his term. Now he wants to ‘double down’ for another year on this failed approach at a cost of $4 billion. Governor Romney will instead set the industry on a course for success and growth by promoting policies that remove regulatory barriers, support free enterprise and market-based competition, and reward technological innovation.”

Mr. Obama’s reference to the wind energy credit was wedged into his broader stump speech contrasting his budget and tax cut proposals for the middle class with Mr. Romney’s. Pueblo was the third stop in a two-day swing through Colorado, where polls show the rivals in a close race and where the economy’s slow recovery is acting as a drag on the president’s support.

From Pueblo, Mr. Obama was to head to Colorado Springs, venturing into a largely conservative region to encourage his supporters there and maximize turnout in the state – “leaving no stone unturned,” as Obama campaign documents often say.