Sierra Club ramps up pressure for wind credit extension

Hamilton, the director of clean energy for the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign, said the cost of the campaign will begin in the “high six figures” and hopefully grow from there.

New wind-power installations have sharply decreased when the credit has lapsed in the past, most recently in 2004. Industry officials say uncertainty about the credit is already prompting some layoffs, and warn that 37,000 jobs in the wind sector supply chain are ultimately at risk.

More than 400 American manufacturing plants build wind components, according to the Sierra Club, which emphasizes the public health benefits of moving away from coal-fired power.

“Congress is holding thousands of high-quality American jobs in their hands, but every day of uncertainty for the industry is causing more delayed projects and more layoffs,” Hamilton said in a prepared statement.

Hamilton did not disclose specific lawmakers the campaign will target. But he said the campaign will force lawmakers with wind-related jobs in their district to confront the question of whether they believe those jobs are “expendable.”

The campaign, which includes tactics such as online letter-writing to lawmakers, will join a suite of lobbying and PR efforts by the wind industry, green groups and other advocates.

But the fate of the credits, despite their history of bipartisan support, is highly uncertain. The incentives are tethered to wider election-year debates over tax policy and the extension of various other expiring tax code provisions.

President Obama is leaning on Congress to extend the credit. Obama traveled to an Iowa manufacturer of wind turbine blades late last month, where he urged Congress to act immediately on the incentives.