Fact check: CFACT’s Driessen off base in attacking clean energy

Fact check: CFACT’s Driessen off base in attacking clean energy

The Washington Times ran an op-ed recently by Paul Driessen of the misnamed Committee for a Constructive Tomorrow (CFACT), a fossil-fuel funded group, commenting on what the re-election of President Obama means for America’s energy future. Mr. Driessen paints a dubious picture of the type of energy policy America needs, wants, and–now with the election results in–voted for.

American voters support progress in wind power production and have now made it clear that they support much more growth of wind power in America. As result, policy makers from both parties who support the wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) and who were up for re-election are returning to Congress.  This shows the bipartisan support for the PTC that has been a theme throughout this year. With the election now over, Americans are expecting Congress to extend the PTC so that wind power expansion can continue.

Wind energy creates thousands of jobs in the United States and economic boom times for rural communities all around the country. Under the George W. Bush Administration, the U.S. Department of Energy reported that wind can supply 20% of the nation’s electricity by 2030. Achieving this goal would support an estimated 500,000 good quality jobs in the U.S., with an annual average of more than 150,000 of those workers directly employed by the wind industry. And the industry would increase its yearly property tax payments to local governments to more than $1.5 billion, plus annual lease payments to rural landowners of more than $600 million.

Extending the PTC is necessary for a serious “all of the above” energy plan to ensure a diversified portfolio of energy sources to protect our national security and our economy. If the PTC is allowed to expire, wind energy will be the only form of energy generation without any Federal support.

Mr. Driessen may ignore these facts, but they are real and thousands of real Americans would feel the impact of losing their jobs should the PTC go away this year.

Regarding wildlife, the wind industry has taken a systematic approach to identify potential impacts on birds, bats and other animals, and is engaged in initiatives aimed at reducing, if not eliminating, those impacts.

While birds do collide with wind turbines at some sites, modern wind power plants are collectively far less harmful to birds than radio towers, tall buildings, airplanes, vehicles and numerous other manmade objects. The National Academy of Sciences estimated in 2006 that wind power is responsible for fewer than 0.003% (3 of every 100,000) of bird deaths caused by humans and pets.

Wind energy consumes no water and produces no emissions in the generation of electricity and is the least impactful form of energy production available to our society today. The benefits it provides to both wildlife and humans far outweigh its negligible impacts.

The PTC is an incentive that reduces taxes on the operators of wind farms and leaves more of the money they earn from electricity sales in private hands, helping to attract private investment not only in wind projects, but in component manufacturers, suppliers, trucking companies and more.  The PTC provides an income tax credit of 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour for the first 10 years of electricity production from utility-scale wind turbines. It is set to expire on Dec. 31 unless Congress extends it first. A recent study by Navigant Consulting found that extending the Production Tax Credit will allow the industry to grow to 100,000 jobs in just four years, while an expiration would kill 37,000 jobs within a year.

A House bill seeking to extend the PTC has 110 cosponsors, including 25 Republicans, while a similar Senate bill is cosponsored by seven Senators, including three Republicans.  PTC extension efforts have received the endorsement of a broad coalition of more than 370 members, including the National Association of Manufacturers, the American Farm Bureau Federation, and the Western Governors’ Association. A PTC extension also has the support of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the National Governors Association, and the bipartisan Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, which includes 23 Republican and Democratic Governors from across the U.S.  A PTC extension has been endorsed by a number of newspapers across the country, including the Des Moines Register, the Denver Post, the Daily Oklahoman, the Toledo Blade, the Houston Chronicle, the San Antonio Express-News, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Chicago Sun-Times, and The New York Times.

Further endorsements of the wind energy production tax credit.

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