Tuesday, May 15, 2012

How Many Jobs Did GOP Clean Energy Obstruction Just Cost Virginia?

Blow me awayCongressional Republicans, led by House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), have been blocking extension of several key clean energy tax credits, investments that represent a tiny fraction of the subsidies received by the oil, gas & nuclear industries over time. And here in Virginia, officials have dragged their feet on encouraging offshore wind and been accused of letting Dominion Virginia Power slow down the process.

Now the GOP's ideological war is having real consequences and costing Virginia jobs at a critical time for the fragile economic recovery. Wind energy giant Gamesa has announced that if the U.S. and Virginia can't commit to wind energy, it can't commit to the U.S., building key new wind prototypes off Spain & Africa instead:
While still committed to developing a U.S. market, a Gamesa spokeswoman said the slow pace of regulatory actions, uncertainty over the future of tax credits for offshore development and the lack of a federal energy policy all conspired against investment in the prototype.

"Without a mature offshore wind market in the United States, it is extremely difficult to justify the enormous expenditure of capital and utilization of engineering and technical resources that would be needed to build and install a prototype in the U.S.," Gamesa spokesman Susana Sanjuan wrote in an email to The Associated Press. The prototype was to rise in the lower Chesapeake Bay, about three miles off the town of Cape Charles. It had a late 2013 completion date, which would have made it the first wind turbine in offshore U.S. waters.

The prototype was the first publicly announced product to emerge from a partnership between Gamesa and Huntington Ingalls Newport News Shipbuilding. Gamesa also announced that partnership will "wind down" by year's end with the design of a new offshore platform completed.
Just a couple of months ago, Gov. Bob McDonnell had raved about the project. "This wind turbine prototype will bring jobs, jobs and more jobs, and it positions Virginia to be a leader in clean energy technology," said Virginia Secretary of Natural Resources Doug Domenech.

Will Cantor and McDonnell now idly sit by while Virginia gets left in the dust by leaders that are serious about creating jobs and protecting public health with offshore wind?
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