Debate over renewable energy continues in Iowa, nationally


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State Democrats say voters should think about job creation and renewable energy as issues that fall hand in hand when going to the polls this year, as they hope for more legislation on both the national and state level.

Iowa Democrats linked renewable energy with job creation at a press conference on Monday held at Kirkwood Community College, and Democrats also pushed voters to look at the Republican voting record on alternative-energy bills.

The issue Sen. Rob Hogg, D-Cedar Rapids, outlined lies with the failed passage of several alternative energy and transportation bills in the House.

“In general, most candidates, if not all candidates, will say we are in favor of jobs, but then the question comes up — what are you actually going to do?” Hogg said.  “What policies are you going to support?”

He blamed Republicans for the bills not passing, and he is worried because he believes alternative energy creates jobs.

“One of the things that has been proven to work is renewable energy,” Hogg said. “In my view, we’ve got to have an energy strategy that focuses on homegrown renewable energy, jobs making energy in Iowa, and real transportation solutions.”

Rep. Ralph Watts, R-Adel, said the issues with renewable energy proposals are the costs involved.
“Generally, renewable energy costs more,” he said. “I do know that sometimes some of the Senate Democrats like to make renewable energy proposals that don’t make any sense for the taxpayer.”

Democrat consultant Paul Deaton said voters should be thinking about creating jobs when they go to the polls this year.

“I think there is an advantage to having [renewable -energy jobs] in the state, to the extent that jobs created by renewable energies are viable and can be grown,” he said. “I think that should be a factor in the election.”

Hogg also saw similarities between national Republican policies and local Republican policies.
“The Republicans have a very inconsistent record of supporting renewable energy and transportation solutions,” he said. “There are parallels with that on a national and state level.”

University of Iowa political science Associate Professor Tim Hagle said there will always be differences between state and national Republicans. One of those variations is wind-energy tax breaks.

GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney hopes to discontinue tax breaks for wind energy, while the GOP candidate for Iowa’s 2nd Congressional District, John Archer, does not think that is the best move.

“I don’t necessarily know if [Romney] truly understands the economic impact of wind energy to Iowa,” Archer said in a previous interview with The Daily Iowan. “I would be in favor of extending the tax credit for a period of time.”

Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, also saw an importance in wind-energy tax breaks.

“[The wind tax credit] helps to level the playing field,” he said in a previous interview with the DI. “If you are going to end the tax credit, you need to end tax credits for oil and gas as well.”

Romney and President Obama both pushed for alternative energy creation during the presidential debates this past month. Romney wants to promote both renewable energy sources as well as traditional sources, and Obama wants to push cleaner and more efficient energy.

Hagle said it is not only the Democrats who encourage renewable energy.

“I think you do see some differences in how the Republicans and Democrats want to approach alternative energy — but the Republicans do want to promote renewable energy,” he said. “The Republicans stress the market a lot more.”

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