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Wednesday, August 8, 2012

In Iowa, Romney Leaves a Stance on Wind Power Unsaid


DES MOINES - Seeking support in the swing state of Iowa, Mitt Romney on Wednesday called for developing a laundry list of energy resources that included wind power, but he pointedly did not mention that he opposes a tax credit for the wind industry that the state's Republican leadership strongly favors.

Gov. Terry Branstad and members of Iowa's Congressional delegation have criticized Mr. Romney in recent days for not backing a longstanding tax break for wind energy in a state where the industry employs about 7,000 workers and supplies 20 percent of the kilowatts.

Mr. Branstad told Iowa reporters that the Romney campaign suffered from “confusion” over the issue and that he hoped to talk with Mr. Romney so he would become “educated.” On Wednesday, Mr. Branstad was in a different part of the state, and a senior Romney aide said he did not think they had communicated.

Representative Tom Latham, a Republican, said on Monday that Mr. Romney's opposition “shows a lack of full understanding of how important the wind energy tax credit is for Iowa and our nation.''

Mr. Latham, who introduced Mr. Romney here, did not mention the issue.

Mr. Romney has long criticized President Obama over subsidies to “green” energy companies, including the bankrupt Solyndra. His campaign argues that extending a wind tax break, which is due to expire this year, would be a government intrusion into the free market. The position has won support from the Tea Party, members of the conservative base whom Mr. Romney needs to court to succeed in Iowa in November.

Last month a state spokesman for the Romney campaign told The Des Moines Register, “Wind energy will thrive wherever it is economically competitive, and wherever private-sector competitors with far more experience than the president believe the investment will produce results.”

At the sam e time, Mr. Romney favors keeping tax breaks for the oil industry.

Speaking here to campaign activists who had traveled from around the state, Mr. Romney said, “We have got to take advantage of America's extraordinary energy resources â€" coal, oil, gas, nuclear, renewables, wind, solar, ethanol, you name it â€" we've got to take advantage of all of them.''

He mentioned an article he had read predicting that the United States could be the world's largest energy producer in a decade, which he said would produce a jobs boom as manufacturers took advantage of low-cost power.

But he did not mention his opposition to the wind industry tax credit, which passed with a bipartisan vote this month in the Senate Finance Committee.

Mr. Obama, who campaigned in Colorado on Wednesday, another battleground state with a large wind industry, planned to promote his support of the tax break.