The wind blows on both sides of the political aisle, it seems.
Staunch Republican from Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley on Wednesday teamed with Democrat Senator Mark Udall of Colorado, along with Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa, and Democrat Rep. Jerry McNerney of California, for a news conference to urge an extension of the production tax credit for wind energy.
The unique event included 40 military veterans -- many of whom have found post-military careers in the wind-energy industry.
The bipartisan team of lawmakers feel it is vital that the wind tax credits be included in year-end legislation to continue as many as 60 expiring provisions.
Shannon Lehmkuhl of Estherville and Troy Ellis of Newton were among the veterans at the event on Capitol Hill. They were participating in an Operation Free two-day fly-in to meet with members of Congress.
"The production tax credit for wind is working and should be part of the effort in Washington to help get more Americans -- and more veterans -- working," Grassley said. "Certainty about tax policy and affordable energy are factors for economic growth, and as much energy as possible -- both traditional and renewable -- should be produced at home to create jobs and strengthen economic and national security. There's no reason to exacerbate the unemployment problem by letting this successful incentive lapse."
Grassley said the production tax credit for wind is available only when wind energy is produced. There's no benefit for simply placing the turbine in the ground. "It's tax relief that rewards results," Grassley said. The senator said wind energy detractors have blurred the distinction in efforts to undercut wind as a source of clean electricity.
The wind energy production tax credit was created to try to level the playing field with coal-fired and nuclear electricity generation. If the wind incentive is allowed to lapse on December 31, wind energy would be the only form of energy generation without any federal incentive.
In Iowa, the wind energy industry employs nearly 5,000 full-time workers. Iowa generates 20 percent of its electricity needs from wind.