Wind Energy Prevents As Much Global Warming Pollution As Taking 897,000 Cars Off The Road

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Environment California Research & Policy Center

Bakersfield & Rancho Cordova – Environment California released an Environment California Research & Policy Center report today that documents that wind energy in California is yielding major environmental benefits that are in jeopardy of being lost if Congress fails to take action in the coming weeks. 

Right now, wind power in California displaces as much global warming pollution as taking 897,000 cars off the road per year.  Today’s wind energy in California is delivering results for public health, by avoiding 6,100 tons of smog-causing pollution and 1,700 tons of soot pollution.  And in a state that has suffered from severe droughts this year California’s wind power presently saves enough water to meet the needs of 38,900 people.

Environment California was joined by Linda Parker, Executive Director of the Kern Wind Energy Association, and David Teasdale, Director of the Clean Energy Center at the Kern Community College District  in releasing the Environment California Research & Policy Center report, Wind Power for a Cleaner America: Reducing Global Warming Pollution, Cutting Air Pollution, and Saving Water.    

The speakers urged Congressman Kevin McCarthy and Dan Lungren to extend critical federal incentives for wind power—the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) and the offshore wind investment tax credit (ITC)—before they expire at the end of the year.

“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.”

Natural gas- and coal-fired power plants require vast amounts of water for cooling, reducing the amount of water available for irrigation, wildlife, recreation or domestic use, now and in the future – while wind power requires none of this.  Across the country, more water is withdrawn from U.S. lakes, rivers, streams and aquifers for the purpose of cooling power plants than for any other purpose.  “In this year of significant drought, the water savings secured by increased wind power are critical to our local environment and our economy,” said Carroll.”

With 2.1 million adults and 613,000 children in California suffering from asthma, wind energy in California is delivering results for public health by avoiding 6,110 tons of smog-causing pollution and 1,730 tons of soot pollution.

Linda Parker of the Kern Wind Energy Association added, “Wind energy creates jobs, supports public works, and boosts local economic activity.  In fact, this year the wind industry in Kern County will generate over 800 direct and manufacturing jobs, 1600 professional and indirect permanent jobs, and will pump up to $60 million in new annual property tax revenues into Kern County’s local economy.  To continue this momentum, the wind industry supports Environment California and supports long-term PTC tax policies, lasting more than just a few years providing consistency and market certainty.”

California wind farms currently generate energy equivalent to powering 1.2 million homes.  In 2011, California installed more new wind capacity than any other state in the nation.  If wind development continues through 2016 at a pace comparable to that of recent years, California will reduce global warming pollution by as much as taking an additional 925,000 cars off the road and will save enough water to meet the needs of an additional 40,100 people.

The Kern Community College District’s Clean Energy Center has trained over 180 individuals for careers supporting the wind energy industry.   Director David Teasdale said, “We have had many of our trainees secure jobs with the wind industry, but we still have dozens looking for work in the industry. A robust wind energy industry in Kern County and throughout California will help our hard-working, dedicated trainees secure good paying jobs which will allow them to provide for their families.   In addition to the air quality benefits provided by wind power, the wind energy industry also provides jobs for hundreds of Kern County workers.”

California’s successful development of wind energy results largely from the state’s powerful Renewable Electricity Standard and the federal renewable energy Production Tax Credit.
Wind energy now powers nearly 13 million homes across the country and is on its way to being cost-competitive with traditional fossil fuels.  But the two key federal wind power incentives—the production tax credit and the offshore wind investment tax credit —expire at the end of the year. Without these credits, many planned wind farms will not be built, leaving health and environmental benefits for Californians on the table.

Despite the benefits of wind energy and widespread public support for federal policies to promote renewable energy, fossil fuel interests and their allies in Congress are vigorously opposing the PTC and ITC.

“We must invest wisely to achieve a future with cleaner air, fewer extreme weather events, and smart use of our water resources,” said Carroll.  “Time is running out. We urge Congressman Kevin McCarthy and Congressman Dan Lungren to extend the renewable energy production tax credit and offshore wind investment tax credit before the end of the year.  Our clean air, water, and children’s future depend on it.”