Labor and Environmental Leaders Call on Congressmen Cravaack and Duffy to Save Minnesota and Wisconsin Jobs

Local labor and environmental leaders gathered today at Duluth’s Bayfront Park to hold a press conference to call on Congressmen Chip Cravaack (R-MN) and Sean Duffy (R-WI) to support an immediate extension of the Production Tax Credit.

Area Leaders Call for Renewal of the Production Tax Credit to Save 37,000 American Jobs, Ensure U.S. Can Compete in Global Clean Energy Industry

DULUTH, MN (August 29, 2012) Local labor and environmental leaders gathered today at Duluth’s Bayfront Park to hold a press conference to call on Congressmen Chip Cravaack (R-MN) and Sean Duffy (R-WI) to support an immediate extension of the Production Tax Credit — a 2.2-cent per kilowatt hour tax incentive for wind energy that expires at the end of the year.

The American Wind Energy Association estimates that the Production Tax Credit will allow the wind industry to grow from the current 75,000 jobs and continue toward supporting 500,000 jobs by 2030. Extending the Production Tax Credit through 2016 would increase total wind-supported jobs to 95,000, with total wind investment growing to $16.3 billion. However, without an extension, America stands to lose 37,000 jobs — roughly half the jobs in the industry.

“Every one of these wind turbines consists of 8,000 parts and 200 tons of steel,” said Ray Pierce, Jr., member of United Steelworkers Local 6115. “And, when you consider that since 2005 the domestic content in American wind turbines has grown from less than 25 percent domestic content to 60 percent in 2011, that’s a lot of jobs for workers from Minnesota and Wisconsin, as well as workers throughout the U.S.”

Minnesota ranks fifth nationally for most installed wind capacity, just behind Illinois, and added the fourth most new capacity in 2011. In Minnesota, wind powers the equivalent of 770,000 homes. And, in terms of potential, it is the 11th ranked state. Wisconsin added 162 megawatts of wind capacity in 2011 and is ranked 16th in the nation in terms of wind potential and 18th in terms of installed wind. Wind powers the equivalent of 150,000 homes in the state and there are 908 megawatts of wind in the queue.

“Clean energy tax incentives like the Production Tax Credit have created jobs — around the country, here in Minnesota and Wisconsin, and right here in Duluth at the port,” said Katie Gulley, Regional Program Manager for the BlueGreen Alliance. “In Minnesota, there are as many as 3,000 people employed in the wind industry and in Wisconsin there are as many as 2,000.”

The tax incentive is moving in the U.S. Senate, passing with bipartisan support from the Senate Finance Committee just prior to the beginning of the August recess, but it remains stalled in the U.S. House of Representatives.

“Both Congressman Duffy and Cravaack need to understand the importance of these jobs to America and the citizens of our states,” said Dan Olson, Business Manager for the Laborers’ International Union of North America Local 1091. “Without an extension, the Production Tax Credit expires at the end of the year; to save and create thousands of good jobs in Wisconsin, Minnesota and around the country, we need Congress to extend the Production Tax Credit. We’re here today to call for them to get this thing done as soon as they get back to Washington.”

The labor and environmental leaders argued the benefits of wind go beyond good jobs. “Renewal of the Production Tax Credit will mean clean air and clean jobs for Minnesota and Wisconsin,” said John Doberstein, Executive Committee member, Sierra Club North Star Chapter. “The wind power installed in Minnesota will avoid 5.4 million metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. In Wisconsin, wind avoids 800,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. For Congressmen Cravaack and Duffy, this should be a no-brainer.”29