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December 27, 2012

Our View: Congress should extend wind energy tax credit

For decades America has had a bipartisan energy policy that promoted domestic energy sources that reduce our dependence on foreign oil.

Oil and gas companies take advantage of federal incentives to tap into sources that would otherwise be too expensive.

There would be no American nuclear power industry if not for federal loan guarantees.

But unless Congress acts, one form of domestic energy would lose its federal subsidy and be forced into an impossible competition in a marketplace where all its competitors have an edge.

That would be a big mistake.

Wind energy is an emerging technology that has the potential to be a clean alternative, lessening our need to burn coal and other fossil fuels.

The federal tax credit supports the growth of a domestic manufacturing industry and a source of electricity with no fuel costs. It supports heavy construction jobs in Maine, and by keeping prices competitive, it lets the wind industry develop at a time when recent discoveries and techniques have made natural gas prices drop dramatically. Low cost natural gas does not make the need for renewable power disappear. We still need to take advantage of multiple sources of energy, and while gas is cleaner than coal, it's still a source of carbon pollution that contributes to global warning.

Because Congress cannot put a price on carbon, we all end up paying for the results of a warming planet, and there is no disincentive to burn fossil fuels.

The critics say that since the wind doesn't blow all the time it is unreliable and it spoils the view of Maine ridge tops.

But despite those drawbacks it should be part of the mix because it doesn't contribute to global warming and as the technology improves, the prices will come down. It may never be the exclusive replacement of a coal plant, but it could become the alternative that reduces the need to burn as much fossil fuel.

If we are serious about developing domestic energy, we should look beyond a single source, even if, like gas, the source is plentiful and relatively inexpensive.

Congress should support clean energy and jobs and extend the wind energy tax credit.





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