Obama to slam Romney on wind energy tax credit

President Obama is directly attacking rival Mitt Romney over the GOP White House hopeful’s view that tax credits for wind energy projects should be allowed to expire at year’s end.

Obama’s comments, to be delivered later Thursday in Colorado, are the strongest sign yet that his campaign believes Romney’s stance can be transformed into political liability for the Republican in crucial swing states.

“[A]t a moment when homegrown energy is creating new jobs in states like Colorado and Iowa, my opponent wants to end tax credits for wind energy producers. Think about what that would mean for a community like Pueblo. The wind industry supports about 5,000 jobs across this state,” Obama plans to say Thursday in Pueblo, Colo., where the Danish wind turbine giant Vestas has a major manufacturing plant.

“Without those tax credits, 37,000 American jobs, potentially including hundreds of jobs right here in Pueblo, would be at risk. Colorado, it is time to stop spending billions in taxpayer subsidies on an oil industry that's rarely been more profitable, and keep investing in a clean energy industry that's never been more promising,” Obama intends to say, according to prepared remarks that his reelection campaign circulated.

Obama is pushing Congress to extend the production tax credit for wind power projects. It's slated to lapse at the end of this year absent congressional action.

Romney, the presumptive GOP presidential nominee, came out firmly in opposition to the credit’s extension last week, creating a stark contrast with Obama on the matter.

Colorado is a battleground state in the White House race. So is Iowa, a state that has seen a wind energy boom and now ranks behind only Texas in installed wind generation capacity. Romney's position has angered several senior Republicans in the Hawkeye State.

Romney’s campaign struck back Thursday, stating that the former Massachusetts governor is very pro-wind.

“Governor Romney is a strong supporter of wind power and appreciates the industry’s extraordinary technological progress and its important contributions to America’s energy supply,” spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said in a statement.

She said Obama’s policy of “massive subsidies and handouts” hasn’t worked. “Governor Romney will instead set the industry on a course for success and growth by promoting policies that remove regulatory barriers, support free enterprise and market-based competition, and reward technological innovation,” Henneberg said.

Wind-industry officials say uncertainty about the tax incentive’s future is already causing layoffs along the wind energy supply chain. New wind-power installations have fallen off sharply when the credit has been allowed to lapse, which last occurred in 2004.

This post was updated at 1:35 p.m.