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Declare independence from fossil fuels

Aug 2, 2012 | What's New

Members of Pennsylvania Interfaith Power & Light drove red, white, and blue energy-efficient cars in the Radnor, PA, Memorial Day Parade. Let's reduce our dependence on fossil fuels by asking Congress to renew wind energy incentives.

On August 2, the Senate Finance Committee took a step toward helping our nation move toward independence from fossil fuels by renewing the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy development. However, further action on the measure is not expected until later this year. As people of faith called to be responsible stewards of Creation, let’s call on Congress to renew the PTC.

We need clean energy from wind and other sources to reverse global warming, and the wind industry has been growing, even in a tough economy. More than 400 American manufacturing plants build wind components; wind is supplying 25 percent more electricity to Americans than it was just one year ago; and wind power is on track to produce 20 percent of America’s electricity by 2030.

But our movement toward clean energy for a healthy Creation and stable climate is losing ground right now because Congress is letting the PTC renewal twist in the wind. Although the Senate Finance Committee passed a one-year extension of the incentive on August 2, it is uncertain when the full Senate and the House will consider the package.

Production Tax Credits are available for companies that generate wind, solar, geothermal, and bioenergy. Most of them have been extended through the end of 2013, but the wind credit expires at the end of 2012. The PTC was originally passed as part of the Energy Policy Act of 1992, and it’s been extended four times. Unfortunately, Congress has also let it lapse three times, most recently in 2002 – and each time that happens, it sets the wind energy industry back. Here’s part of a Business Week report on a recent wind power conference:

“Tom Carnahan of Wind Rose Partners said the industry has experienced fluctuations before, but this is different.” There is more at stake this time; every month matters,” Carnahan said. “Developers have already started layoffs and every quarter of this year we are going to lose jobs. It will be a tragedy not to find a way to get this tax (credit) extended…”

Experts say that if the PTC is allowed to expire, the U.S. stands to lose up about half of all existing wind industry jobs – something we can’t afford as the economy continues its recovery. Even more important, because our faith calls us to care for our most vulnerable neighbors, we have a moral obligation to advocate for renewable energy that will curb air pollution and its harmful health effects. What’s more, fossil fuels are subsidized at 12 times the rate of renewable energy. Where should our nation put its resources?

The PTC enjoys bipartisan support, but its renewal is stalled by Congressional inertia this election year. It’s time to write our lawmakers and ask them to renew the PTC now – this time for four years, as recommended by the Union of Concerned Scientists – so wind energy companies can depend on the incentive, just as they depend on the wind to generate jobs and electricity across America.

The wind won’t let us down, but Congress might. On behalf of Creation, clean energy, and good jobs for Americans, it’s time to ask Congress to renew the PTC now.

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