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June 29, 2015

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Jobs are blowin’ in the wind

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“How many times can a man turn his head, pretending he just doesn't see? The answer my friend is blowin' in the wind. The answer is blowin’ in the wind”

These famous folk song lyrics contain a valuable lesson for Congress and American workers this Labor Day. Today, in the midst of a recovering economy, many American working families are concerned about keeping their jobs. The right for workers to form unions and bargain collectively for better lives has been rolled back in some states, and millions of middle class families are struggling after a decade of declining incomes.

But there’s a simple answer that’s “blowin' in the wind.” Congress can support American workers by protecting and creating jobs in the wind energy sector.

The wind power industry currently employs seventy-five thousand Americans, and states like Iowa and South Dakota already generate twenty percent of their electricity from wind. Much of this success is due to a federal policy called the Production Tax Credit, which has helped level the playing field and provided certainty to grow the American wind industry.

Thanks to this tax credit, the wind industry has created thousands of good union jobs, like those at Trinity Structural Towers factory in Newton, Iowa, where members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 347 manufacture wind towers. At a time when so many American working families are struggling, a union job can provide good wages, healthcare benefits that keep children healthy, and pensions that ensure a secure retirement.

Renewing the wind energy tax credit will support existing good-paying wind jobs and create thousands more, like the 1,000 jobs expected at the A-Power Energy Generation Systems wind turbine factory in Southern Nevada. The Production Tax Credit will help the wind industry continue to revive America’s economy and protect public health by moving the country beyond dirty energy.

Unfortunately, Republicans in Congress are on track to let the Production Tax Credit expire on New Year’s Eve, killing wind jobs and stifling the industry’s future.

Already, Congress’ failure to renew the Production Tax Credit has resulted in more than 2,200 jobs cut, put at risk, or never created. Last month, 165 workers lost their United Steelworkers union jobs at Gamesa’s nacelle and rotor blade plants in Fairless Hills and Ebensburg, Pennsylvania.

If the Production Tax Credit expires at the end of the year, approximately half of all existing U.S. wind jobs are expected to disappear – that’s means more than 37,000 people out of work.

But, as the song says, “the answer is blowin’ in the wind.” This Labor Day, Congress should stand up for American workers and renew the wind energy tax credit, thereby protecting these good-paying jobs for years to come.

Allison Chin is president of the Sierra Club.

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  1. Two quick points: Is that from a Nirvana song? It sounds like the kind of song Kurt Cobain might have written.
    Also, Dr. Chin is totally correct. If we allow our homegrown fossil-fuel cartels to dictate energy policy, we'll end up handing the renewable energy industry to overseas competitors. (They aren't shy about boosting the renewable sector.) As long as the federal government is handing out billions in subsidies to oil companies, we need to at least provide tax credits for renewables to level the playing field.

  2. What about the 13,000 plus high paying Union jobs that are available to build the Keystone pipeline? And no tax credit is needed. Should that not be brought online as well? Also we need more solar plants like solyndra solar.

    I would not worry much about your wind power, the Production Tax credit keeps getting extended or morphed into something else.
    As originally enacted by the Energy Policy Act of 1992, the PTC expired in July 1999, and was subsequently extended through the end of 2001 by the Ticket to Work and Work Incentives Improvement Act of 1999 in December 1999. The PTC expired again at the end of 2001, but was then extended again in March 2002 as part of the Job Creation and Worker Assistance Act of 2002 (H.R. 3090). The PTC then expired yet again at the end of 2003 and was not renewed until October 2004, as part of H.R. 1308, the Working Families Tax Relief Act of 2004, which extended the credit through December 31, 2005. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (H.R. 6) modified the credit and extended it through December 31, 2007. In December 2006, the PTC was extended for yet another year -- through December 31, 2008 -- by the Tax Relief and Health Care Act of 2006 (H.R. 6111).

  3. It "blows my mind" how the abundant level of political and special interest business corruption is behind destroying the United States of America and the little guy American Citizens, through manipulative legislation. The only "empowerment" going on, is keeping Big OIL and their many subsidiaries' pockets full of money (that they hide overseas and in off shore accounts).

    MONEY = POWER, and since they have both, they dictate policy, and WE the little guy American People are the victim drones carrying out their mandates.

    The "paperclip" analogy by Commenter Stephenrblv is priceless! It is safe to say here that most Commenters here know that our current form of American government no longer represents the People or their interests. The BIG financial backers dictating government policy will do everything to pass laws to further subjugate us into making them even richer and more powerful.

    Blessings and Peace,