The Garden City Telegram
11/17/2012
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Wind push

Republicans and Democrats work toward important goal.

In an unusual yet welcome show of bipartisanship, Republicans and Democrats have teamed together to convince Congress to maintain an important tax credit.

Count Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback among Republicans on the right side of the move to push for extension of a federal wind energy production tax credit needed to protect tens of thousands of jobs in the industry.

The tax credit is set to expire at the end of the year, unless extended as part of a new budget deal.

As for Brownback, he had ample cause to join a group of 28 Democratic and GOP governors calling for preservation of the tax break.

Earlier this year, an American Wind Energy Association report showed the Sunflower State leading the nation in the number of wind turbines under construction. Kansas also ranked 14th in installed wind power generation, with enough momentum to climb the list.

The bountiful supply of wind in Kansas — ranked second among windiest states after Texas — wasn't the only driving force in new turbines, as the tax credit helped fuel those projects.

Now, however, that progress hangs in the balance.

Some of the Brownback's fellow GOP conservatives — including First District U.S. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, whose own district holds great wind potential — fiercely oppose the tax credit.

As good wind-energy jobs disappear before our eyes, Huelskamp and others still see the tax credit as wasteful spending — even though the federal government has subsidized fossil fuel-based energy production for more than a century.

Ideally, economic conditions would allow all wind-related projects to thrive without a subsidy. But eliminating such an incentive when others in energy production receive as much makes no sense.

Manufacturers in Kansas and beyond who fear loss of the tax credit already have cut jobs. An estimated 37,000 additional jobs could be lost if the tax credit is allowed to expire.

Such setbacks hurt in challenging economic times, and especially in a state like Kansas that's naturally suited to be a leader in wind production. It's good to see the governor on the right side of an economic issue of such importance to the state.