Romney would say the tax-credit issue goes to Obama’s penchant for supporting goodies for specific industries, which isn’t really fair, since as Obama often says but reporters rarely repeat, Romney and his party support outrageous subsidies and tax breaks for the spectacularly wealthy oil industry.
But it’s true that Obama has tried to support clean energy in general, and the results have been remarkable. For example, the generation of renewable electricity has doubled on Obama’s watch. The stimulus has financed the world’s largest wind farm, a half-dozen of the world’s largest solar farms, the nation’s first refineries for advanced biofuels, a new battery industry for electric vehicles, unprecedented investments in cleaner coal and a smarter electric grid and over 15,000 additional clean-energy projects.
Last year, the U.S. was the least dependent on foreign oil it’s been since 1995, and our greenhouse-gas emissions are dropping even though the economy is growing.
Why are US carbon emissions plummeting back to 1990 levels?
First and foremost are sharp reductions from electric power production, as a result of fuel switching from coal to gas, rising renewable energy production, and increasing efficiency. Yet, the shale gas revolution, and the low-priced gas that it has made a reality, is the key driver of falling carbon emissions, especially in the last 12 months.
As of April, gas tied coal at 32% of the electric power generation market, nearly ending coal's 100 year reign on top of electricity markets. Let's remember the speed and extent of gas's rise and coal's drop: coal had 52% of the market in 2000 and 48% in 2008.
Wind and solar essentially were imaginary before Obama took office, but now they’re a real threat to the fossil-fuel status quo.
That’s why their tax credits, which used to be renewed routinely with overwhelming bipartisan support, have become so controversial and why Romney would risk alienating voters in windy swing states to oppose it.
Ultimately, the argument over wind and other clean energy, like so many arguments in this campaign, is an argument about change.