Broad Coalition of Minnesota Leaders Calls on Congressional Delegation to Renew the Wind Energy Production Tax Credit

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 27, 2012

Broad Coalition of Minnesota Leaders Calls on Congressional Delegation to Renew the
Wind Energy Production Tax Credit

Congress Leaves DC putting 2,000 to 3,000 Minnesota Jobs in Limbo

Minneapolis – Minnesota’s wind energy leadership is at risk if Congress does not act soon, and a broad coalition of Minnesota leaders called on Minnesota’s Congressional Delegation to renew the wind energy production tax credit today. The Sierra Club, Minnesota Farmers Union and 35 additional businesses, elected officials, community leaders, and organizations submitted a letter to the Delegation asking them to protect jobs by speaking out in favor of extending the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy. Signers ranged from mayors of small towns to large wind developers.

The wind industry currently supports more than 75,000 jobs across the country, but if the PTC is not renewed by the end of the year, as many as half of these jobs could be lost. Already, layoffs have been announced at manufacturing facilities and new wind installations have been delayed due to Congressional inaction causing uncertainty around the PTC’s fate. Last week, Siemens announced it would lay off 615 workers, including many in nearby Iowa. Just today, LM Wind Power announced it was eliminating over 300 jobs.

“37,000 American jobs are at risk while too many Republicans in Congress just look the other way,” said Joshua Low, Organizing Representative, with the Sierra Club North Star. “They are playing politics with peoples’ jobs and that is truly unacceptable. We are asking our Congressional delegation to call on the Republican leadership to renew the tax credit for wind energy immediately. Every day of inaction risks further job losses and hardship for thousands of American families.”

Last October, WindLogics, a St. Paul-based wind patterns analysis company, was forced to lay off 10 employees due to uncertainty around renewal of the PTC. WindLogics is just one of dozens of companies that need the PTC to be renewed in order to bring employees back to work in Minnesota and across the country.

“Wind energy provides income and jobs to farm communities across Minnesota,” said Doug Peterson, President of the Minnesota Farmers Union. “We need Congress to get to work for Minnesotans by renewing the wind energy PTC, so we can keep creating jobs and economic opportunity.”

The PTC helps level the energy playing field and has been a key engine in the huge growth of the wind industry over the past decade. The price of wind power has been steadily decreasing, and when the environmental and health costs of burning dirty fossil fuels are taken into account, wind is already cheaper than energy sources like coal. Meanwhile, wind generation continues to grow across the country — Iowa and South Dakota currently generate 20 percent of their electricity from wind power, and with the right policies in place, the wind industry is on track to produce 20 percent of America’s electricity by 2030.

Despite bipartisan support for the PTC, many Republicans in the House of Representatives continue to vote in favor of subsidizing fossil fuels like oil that are raking in record profits, while their leadership has so far failed to even bring the PTC up for a vote.

“The abrupt expiration of the PTC on December 31 puts all of this at risk. Companies cannot plan and finance wind projects with this level of uncertainty,” said Mark Ahlstrom, CEO of WindLogics.

The sign on letter is at http://bit.ly/UvxHUy.

# # #

New Billboards Ask Why Rep. Cravaack Doesn’t Care about Minnesota Wind Energy Jobs

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 17, 2012

New Billboards Ask Why Rep. Cravaack Doesn’t Care about Minnesota Wind Energy Jobs
Sierra Club calls Rep. Cravaack out on Billboards in North Branch and Duluth

***View the Billboard***

Duluth, MN – Today the Sierra Club launched a new billboard campaign targeting Representative Chip Cravaack for failing to support the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy. The billboards ask why Rep. Cravaack doesn’t care about the Minnesota wind industry workers whose jobs are on the line.

“Representative Cravaack talks so much about the economy, you’d think he’d act to protect Minnesota jobs. But he has done nothing to support his constituents and renew the Production Tax Credit,” said John Doberstein, Sierra Club volunteer and Duluthian. “With as many as 37,000 American wind jobs hanging in the balance, Representative Cravaack must stand up for Minnesota families and work to renew the PTC before the end of the year.”

These billboards continue the efforts of the Sierra Club’s Wind Works campaign, which aims to renew the wind energy Production Tax Credit and protect tens of thousands of American jobs. The campaign recently held a press conference in Duluth with labor unions and the Blue Green Alliance calling on Rep. Cravaack to work to renew the wind energy credit. The wind industry currently supports more than 75,000 jobs across the country, but if the PTC is not renewed by the end of the year, as many as half of these jobs could be lost. Already, layoffs have been announced at manufacturing facilities and new wind installations have been delayed due to uncertainty around the PTC’s fate.

Last October, WindLogics, a St. Paul-based wind patterns analysis company, was forced to lay off 10 employees due to uncertainty around renewal of the PTC. WindLogics is just one of dozens of companies that need the PTC to be renewed in order to bring employees back to work in Minnesota and across the country.

While Republicans in the House of Representatives continue to vote in favor of subsidizing fossil fuels like oil that are raking in record profits, their leadership has so far failed to bring the PTC up for a vote, despite bi-partisan support for the measure.

“In this economy, the notion that Representative Cravaack is willing to hand out pink slips to thousands of wind energy workers across Minnesota is ludicrous,” added John Doberstein. “We need Representative Cravaack to stand up for our workers by supporting an industry that is fueling American innovation and providing good-paying jobs.”

Already, more than 2,000 jobs are supported by the wind industry in Minnesota, and there is room for tremendous job growth if the PTC is extended.

Today, the more than 75,000 jobs supported by the wind industry span across all fifty states. The price of wind power has been steadily decreasing, and when the environmental and health costs of burning dirty fossil fuels are added in, wind is already cheaper than energy sources like coal. Meanwhile, wind generation continues to grow across the country — Iowa and South Dakota currently generate 20 percent of their electricity from wind power, and with the right policies in place, the wind industry is on track to produce 20 percent of America’s electricity by 2030.

To find out more about the wind energy PTC, go to http://www.sierraclub.org/windworks/.

***View the Billboard***

###

Land Exchange in Superior National Forest Jeopardizes Our Forests, Water and Wildlife

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2012

Today the House passed H.R. 5544, legislation that would require the U.S. Forest Service to offer a yet-to-be-determined amount of Superior National Forest land to the state of Minnesota, in exchange for more than 86,000 acres of School Trust Land within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW).

Lands that are part of the Superior National Forest receive a variety of critical protections, which preserve recreation, clean water, wildlife habitat and include the headwaters of Lake Superior. These include protections from strip mining, safeguards for endangered and threatened species, and requirements for public involvement and transparency. The specific lands to be exchanged have not been disclosed.

“Any exchange of National Forest lands forfeits important safeguards, such as requirements for public involvement and review,” said Margaret Levin, Sierra Club State Director. “The bill opens the door to proposals for toxic sulfide mining, with far fewer rules and loss of public oversight – for an industry with a terrible track record. “

Sulfide mining is a highly polluting industry. Mining sulfide rock releases acid and toxic metals that pollute rivers and groundwater for hundreds of years, long after the profits are spent and companies have declared bankruptcy.

In addition, H.R. 5544 would bypass the normal review process and public involvement requirements for a federal land exchange. More than 40 local and regional organizations have stated their opposition to the circumvention of Federal environmental laws to facilitate any land exchange involving the BWCAW and Superior National Forest.

The purchase of lands within the BWCAW, through funding sources such as the Land and Water Conservation Fund, has not been seriously considered by Congress. A purchase would accomplish the goal of putting revenue into the school trust, but without removing safeguards from federal lands.

“This bill is rash, unnecessary and a blow to Minnesota’s natural legacy,” said Levin.

###

Citizens Urged to Attend Robert Street Transitway Open Houses – September 12th and 13th

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 4, 2012              

 

Dakota County – Dakota County will hold open houses for the Robert Street Transitway Alternatives Study on Wednesday, September 12th, 4:30 – 6:30 p.m., Northern Service Center, and Thursday, September 13th, 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. at the Wellstone Center.

According to the County, the open houses will “discuss the project needs and goals with the general public and gain feedback that will help shape a final version of the study framework. These open houses will also give the public an opportunity to discuss general transit needs that may be addressed in this project and learn about the different transit modes that may be considered.”

“It is critical for citizens to attend and share their input,” said Carol Keyes-Ferrer, local business owner and citizen member of the Study Steering Committee. “Your voice matters, and this is an opportunity to shape the future of our community. Our leaders need to hear that citizens are willing to support investments in public transit, which will reduce traffic, clear our air and help the economy.”

Since 2005, citizens from West Saint Paul, Inver Grove Heights, and Mendota Heights have been advocating for a light rail line serving the area. Since then, businesses, educators, senior citizens, and other stakeholders have voiced their support for rail and transit improvements. Residents have participated in activities such as community forums, door knocking, a post card campaign, tabling at community events, and letter-writing drives.

For local advocates, the study cannot happen soon enough. “We’ve peaked when it comes to dependence on the automobile, and our communities and the environment can’t afford it for much longer,” says Sheila Williams-Ridge of West St. Paul, a Sierra Club member and supporter of the proposal.

Workshop times and locations: http://www.robertstreettransit.com

September 12, 4:30 PM – 6:30 PM (Presentation at 5:00 PM)
Dakota County Northern Service Center, Room 110
1 Mendota Road West, West St. Paul

September 13, 6:00 PM – 8:00 PM (Presentation at 6:30 PM)
Wellstone Center, West Side Room
179 Robie Street, St. Paul