A new report says expanding wind power across the U.S. could cut as much global warming pollution as 254 coal plants produce in a year, but congressional action is needed to make that expansion a reality.
The Environment America Research & Policy Center analysis, titled ‘More Wind, Less Warming,’ highlights the environmental benefits of wind power. It comes as Congress debates renewing the wind production tax credit (PTC).Â
On Dec. 4, leaders from Environment America and the American Wind Energy Association joined clean energy champions U.S. Sens Tom Udall, D-N.M., and Ed Markey, D-Mass., to release the report and call for action.
Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a tax extenders bill that includes a retroactive PTC extension through the end of 2014. However, wind industry advocates say the bill, which has been sent to the Senate for consideration, is virtually meaningless and are calling for an extension at least through the end of 2015.
"Speeding the development of pollution-free wind energy will slow global warming," said Anna Aurilio, global warming solutions program director for Environment America. "But Congress needs to invest now in healthy air and a healthy planet."
"Wind has huge potential – not only is it carbon free, it's abundant in New Mexico, and it uses almost no water," said Udall. "Now is the time for Congress to make a commitment to fight climate change and help create jobs of the future by extending the wind production tax credit – not just for one year but long enough for this important industry to meet its full potential.’
Markey said, "America's wind energy industry is the future of our economy, and we need to invest in the fuels of the future, not the industries of the past."
The Environment America report says that if wind power keeps its recent pace of development, it could supply 30% of the nation's electricity needs by 2030, providing more than enough carbon reductions to meet the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's proposed Clean Power Plan.
The report further says that the U.S. has the potential to power itself 10 times over with wind that blows both over land and off the coast. Offshore wind development, which is in its nascent stages in the U.S., is critical to fulfilling the nation's full promise of wind energy, the report adds.