The Wire

Romney and Ernst: Trying to Take The Wind Out of Iowa's Economy

Mitt Romney, twice the loser of the Iowa presidential caucus, is visiting the Hawkeye state to lend a hand to extreme Tea Party Senate candidate Joni Ernst. While Romney may signify the face of the GOP establishment, he and Tea Partier Ernst share the extreme position of railing against the wind energy tax credits that are crucial to Iowa’s economy. In 2012, Romney voiced his opposition to renewing wind energy tax credits, joking that they were unnecessary because “you can’t drive a car with a windmill on it.” An Iowa paper editorialized that Romney’s stance was disappointing, and wind energy industry executives warned that letting the credits expire could kill 3000 Iowa jobs.

Fast forward to the 2014 Senate race: Joni Ernst has similarly called for an end to wind energy subsidies. Unsurprisingly, Ernst’s position is the same as the Koch brothers’ Americans for Prosperity, who have railed against the same wind subsidies in Iowa–and who she recently thanked on facebook for pouring money into the race.

Romney, Ernst and the Koch brothers: partners in extreme ideology. Bad for Iowa.

Background

Romney On Wind Energy

Romney: “You Can’t Drive A Car With A Windmill On It.” According to Think Progress, “Romney attacked administration commitments to clean energy that reduce U.S. dependence on oil and fight climate change. To illustrate his point, Romney told his Ohio audience, ‘you can’t drive a car with a windmill on it’: ‘We all like wind and solar, but you can’t drive a car with a windmill on it,’” Romney said. [Think Progress, 03/06/12]

Romney Opposed Renewing Wind Energy Tax Credits Set To Expire Despite Program’s Popularity In Iowa. According to Talking Points Memo, “The Romney campaign on Monday signaled the Republican nominee is against renewing a tax break for wind energy, a potentially dangerous position since the program is popular in the swing state of Iowa, reports the Des Moines Register. The position distinguishes Romney from President Obama who wishes to extend the tax credit and says it has saved jobs in Iowa. It also puts Romney at odds with some Iowa Republicans who support the tax break. ‘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,’ Shawn McCoy, a spokesman for Romney’s Iowa campaign, told the Register Monday. ‘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.’” [Talking Points Memo, 7/31/12]

Iowa Governor Terry Branstad Blamed Romney’s “East Coast People” For Getting Romney To Oppose Wind Energy Tax Breaks Popular In Iowa. According to Radio Iowa, “Iowa’s Republican governor blames ‘a bunch of east coast people’ on Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney’s campaign for getting Romney to oppose federal tax breaks for the wind energy industry. During a brief interview with Radio Iowa earlier today, Governor Terry Branstad said he wants to talk directly with Romney about the value of the wind energy production tax credit. The credit is set to expire at the end of the year. ‘It needs to be continued, not forever, but it does need to be continued for a while and the result is it’s been a very good thing for Iowa in terms of 20 percent of our energy is now generated by wind,’ Branstad said. ‘We have a lot of farmers that receive rent from having wind turbines on their property and we have a lot of jobs associated with it.’” [Radio Iowa, 8/2/12]

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad Said Romney’s Opposition To Wind Energy Tax Credits Was The “Wrong” Decision. According to Talking Points Memo, “Some top Republicans, including Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, support the tax break. According to the Register, Rep. Tom Latham (R-IA) said Romney’s position ‘shows a lack of full understanding of how important the wind energy tax credit is for Iowa and our nation’ and is ‘the wrong decision.’” [Talking Points Memo, 7/31/12]

Gazette Editorial: “Disappointed” Romney Opposed Extension Of Federal Wind Energy Tax Credit. According to a Gazette Editorial, “Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, rightly focused on the economy and how to help the middle class reverse its financial decline when he visited Iowa last week. Those are the biggest issues on most voters’ minds. But we were disappointed that Romney didn’t talk about another issue important to Iowans, not to mention other states: wind energy. Romney opposes an extension of the federal wind energy tax credit when it expires this year.” [Gazette Editorial, 8/12/12]

Iowa Gov. Branstad: Romney Needs More Education On Wind Energy. According to Gazette Editorial, “Romney opposes an extension of the federal wind energy tax credit when it expires this year. That stand is at odds with the entire Iowa congressional delegation, including Reps. Tom Latham and Steve King and Sen. Chuck Grassley, all Republicans, as well as Republican Gov. Terry Branstad, who says Romney just needs a little more education on the topic. ‘I can understand why he objects to Solyndra and all the boondoggles (President) Obama has supported with the stimulus, but remember, the wind energy tax credit (was proposed) by Sen. Grassley and way preceded Obama. It’s a tool that’s helped us grow this energy … ‘ Branstad told a Los Angeles Times reporter. We agree with the governor. The tax credit has helped our state become the nation’s No. 2 producer of wind energy — providing 20 percent of our electric power. […] And the industry provides more than 6,000 good jobs for Iowans, according to the Iowa Wind Energy Association.” [Gazette Editorial, 8/12/12]

Wind Energy Tax Credits Helped Iowa

Gov. Branstad Said Wind Energy Tax Credits Proceeded Obama And The Stimulus And Made A Difference. According to Radio Iowa, “The Romney campaign is running a TV ad in Iowa which suggests part of the 2009 economic stimulus package sent taxpayer dollars to ‘windmills from China.’ ‘I understand why they are very critical of the whole thing that was done by the Obama Administration with regard to the stimulus and some of the money that was wasted on Solyndra and some of these green energy projects didn’t make sense,’ Branstad said. ‘The tax credit, however, is a much different thing and it way proceeded Obama and it was actually something that Senator Grassley authored and has made a real difference over time.’” [Radio Iowa, 8/2/12]

In Iowa, 200 Companies And 7000 People Work In The Wind Energy Industry. According to Radio Iowa, “About 7000 Iowans work in the wind energy industry. More than 200 companies in Iowa are involved in manufacturing the blades, towers and engine parts and in maintaining the nearly 3000 wind turbines that are operating in Iowa today. Branstad blamed ‘confusion’ in the Romney campaign for Romney’s stand against the tax break for wind energy production.” [Radio Iowa, 8/2/12]

Wind Energy Industry Executives Said Up To 3000 People In Iowa Could Lose Jobs If Wind Tax Credits Are Not Extended. According to Radio Iowa, “According to the American Wind Energy Association, there are currently 2925 wind turbines operating in Iowa, with another 280 turbines under construction. Executives in the industry say up to 3000 Iowans may lose their jobs if the wind production tax credit is not extended. Radio Iowa first asked Branstad if he hoped to talk directly with Romney about this issue and Branstad said: ‘He needs to be educated as to how important this is.’” [Radio Iowa, 8/2/12]


Ernst And Iowa Wind Subsidies

Supported Eliminating Wind Energy Subsidies And Credits Despite Previous Support And Importance To Iowa

Ernst Supported Eliminating All Energy Subsidies

December 29, 2013: Ernst Said She Opposed Subsidies For Energy Like Wind From A “Philosophical Standpoint.” According to an opinion piece by Christopher Rants, published in the Sioux City Journal, “But the statements aren’t clear. So I contacted the campaigns of Young, Ernst and Whitaker over Christmas and asked a simple question: ‘Does your candidate support or oppose the RFS?’ […] Team Ernst replied: ‘Joni Ernst does not believe the government should pick winners and losers in our economy, and therefore, from a philosophical standpoint, she does not believe in taxpayer subsidies. However, she believes if we were to end these subsidies, it would have to be done across the board, for every sector at the exact same time – meaning until and unless that day comes, Joni will passionately stand in defense of RFS.’ A much better answer than earlier this month, so we’ll hold her to it. I know Gov. Branstad will.” [Christopher Rants – Sioux City Journal, 12/29/13]

Wind Production Tax Credit Was Essential To Protect 3,500 Iowa Jobs. According to National Journal, “The wind industry in Iowa employs between 6,000 and 7,000 people, but as many as half of those jobs could be at risk if the tax credit expires at the end of this year, according to the American Wind Energy Association. Iowa gets 20 percent of its electricity from wind turbines—the highest percentage in the nation—and the state ranks seventh for potential wind resources, the AWEA says.” [National Journal, 8/7/12]

Ernst Is Supported By American For Prosperity, A Group That Opposes The Renewable Fuel Standard And Wind Energy Subsidies

Ernst Thanked Americans For Prosperity For Running Anti-Rep. Bruce Braley Ads. According to a Facebook post by state Sen. Joni Ernst, Ernst said, “Thankful AFP – Iowa is highlighting Bruce #BraleysObamacare with a new television ad! Time for Braley to own up to the broken promises he made to Iowans. #IASEN” [Joni Ernst – Facebook, 1/15/14]

Americans For Prosperity Strongly Supported Permanently Eliminating RFS. According to testimony from Christine Harbin Hanson, Federal Affairs Manager for Americans for Prosperity, during a public hearing by the Environmental Protection Agency, “AFP strongly supports efforts to permanently eliminate the RFS.” [Christine Harbin Hanson – Public Hearing Testimony, 12/5/13]

Americans For Prosperity Opposed Renewing Wind Production Tax Credit (PTC). According to a legislative alert from Americans for Prosperity, written by AFP Federal Affairs Manager Christine Harbin Hanson, “As I discussed recently in The Hill, the wind industry has failed to produce much in terms of long-term job creation and energy affordability, and Congress should let the wind production tax credit (PTC) expire at the end of the year as scheduled. […] AFP will continue to fight for a free market energy policy, and we’ll do it with our 100+ coalition partners. Now is the time to stop propping up special interests like those in the wind industry. Instead, we should let energy technologies compete for American consumers’ dollars on the open marketplace.” [Christine Harbin Hanson – Americans for Prosperity, 12/12/13]


Kochs on Wind Subsidies

Americans For Prosperity Opposed Extending The Wind Production Tax Credit. According to a letter to the House Ways and Means Committee Chairman, Americans for Prosperity National Issue Campaign Manager Christine Harbin Hanson said, “On behalf of more than two million Americans for Prosperity activists in all 50 states, I write to express our strong opposition to extending the wind production tax credit (PTC). We are encouraged by your decision to exclude this handout for the wind energy industry from the tax reform discussion draft you introduced earlier this year. We encourage your continued opposition to extending the PTC as your committee considers tax extenders legislation. […] Sincerely, Christine Harbin Hanson, National Issue Campaign Manager, Americans for Prosperity.” [Americans for Prosperity, 4/10/14]