New Report: Wind Energy Yields Major Environmental Benefits for Oregon; Reducing Pollution and Saving Water

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Oregon ranked 8th in the nation last year in wind energy production

Environment Oregon

Portland, OR – Wind energy is on the rise in Oregon and is providing huge environmental benefits for the state, according to a new report released today by Environment Oregon. Oregon’s wind energy is already avoiding more than 3,669,151 metric tons of climate-altering carbon pollution – the equivalent of taking 764,407 cars off the road, while saving 1,639,336,500 gallons of water per year – enough to meet the needs of 37,118 people.

Thanks to its current and future benefits, wind power is a key component of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan to reduce the carbon pollution fueling global warming 17 percent by 2020. The plan calls for an expansion of renewable energy, investment in energy efficiency, and the first-ever federal limits on carbon pollution from power plants.

“Clean energy opportunities in Oregon, like wind power, can be part of the solution in addressing climate change,” said Rep. Suzanne Bonamici of Oregon’s First Congressional District. “In addition to the important environmental benefits of renewable energy, wind power provides major economic benefits for Oregon – including clean energy jobs and investment in our local economy.”

The report, Wind Energy for a Cleaner America, also shows that today’s wind energy in Oregon avoids 3,449 tons of smog-causing nitrogen oxides and 4,266 tons of sulfur dioxide, which cause acid rain and soot.

“Wind energy has given us a lot to be thankful for in Oregon,” said Sarah Higginbotham of Environment Oregon. “Oregon’s been a leader, coming in 8th in the nation for wind energy produced in 2012. Now our state and national leaders need to take action to make sure we don’t leave these of environmental benefits on the table at the end of 2013.”

The report shows that wind energy is now providing 6,066,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity in Oregon—the 8th highest wind production in the country. If state and federal officials commit to continued progress, Oregon could reduce the carbon pollution equivalent of more than 711,893 passenger vehicles, and save enough water to meet the annual water needs of nearly 39,503  people.

Oregon’s recent progress on wind is the direct result of programs like the Renewable Energy Standard and the Business Energy Tax Credit– and federal incentives for wind power. Despite the clear benefits of wind and widespread bipartisan support for federal policies to promote renewable energy, fossil fuel interests and their political allies have vigorously opposed these initiatives.

Oregon’s clean energy policy is threatened at capitol and on the ballot, and the main federal incentives for wind – the investment tax credit (ITC) and the production tax credit (PTC) – are currently set to expire at the end of 2013.

“Wind energy is improving our quality of life in Oregon,” said Higginbotham. “We cannot let polluters and their allies stand in the way of additional benefits of wind. Oregon’s legislature needs to defend Oregon’s RPS, and our members of congress need to do whatever it takes to extend federal wind incentives before the end of the year.”