As the federal Wind Production Tax Credit comes ever closer to expiring on December 31, an environmental group has released a report detailing what it calls the major environmental benefits of wind development in danger of being lost should Congress fail to extend the tax credit. Environment California, a statewide environmental advocacy organization, says that wind turbines produce carbon-free power with the resulting drop in CO2 emissions comparable to taking almost 900,000 Californian cars off the road.
The report, "Wind Power for a Cleaner America: Reducing Global Warming Pollution, Cutting Air Pollution, and Saving Water," compares the emissions and resource use of wind power with other industrial alternatives, including natural gas and coal. According to the report, the state of California avoided emitting 4,575,000 metric tons of carbon in 2011, and saved 1.76 billion gallons of water that would have been used to generate fossil fuel power, by generating power from wind turbines instead.
At that, California only takes third place among the 50 states in its wind power-related carbon avoidance. Iowa has reduced its emissions by two tons more than California, and Texas has lowered its carbon emissions by almost twice California and Iowa's totals combined.
"Wind power is creating a cleaner, healthier future for Californians," said Sean Carroll of Environment California. "We can continue on this path of cutting air pollution and saving water if Congress acts now to extend critical wind incentives. Our message to Congress is clear: Don't throw wind power off the fiscal cliff. Our clean air, water, and children's future are too important to blow it now."
One thing goes without mention in the report: wind turbines' effect on populations of wild birds and bats.
In addition to calling for an extension of the Production Tax Credit, the report's authors also urge extension of the offshore wind investment credit (which likewise expires at the end of the year), strengthening renewable portfolio standards and making it easier to build long-distance transmission between power demand and areas with high winds.