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11 Governors Ask Congress to Extend Wind PTC

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Photo credit: Fresh Energy

A bipartisan group of governors is pushing for a multi-year extension of the soon-to-expire production tax credit (PTC) to provide more certainty to the wind industry.

The governors of Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Washington each signed a letter and sent it to the majority and minority leaders of Congress this week. The members of the Governors Wind Energy Coalition centered their argument around an estimated 5,000-plus layoffs that took place within the industry last year because of the impending expiration of the PTC.

The credit expired Dec. 31, 2012, but Congress temporarily extended it two days later. Still, just 1.6 megawatts of wind system installations took place during the first half of this year in the entire country.

Here is the letter addressed to U.S. Senate majority leader Harry Reid, John Boehner, speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell and U.S. House of Representatives minority leader Nancy Pelosi:

Almost a year ago, many of our citizens who work in the wind industry were subjected to an unnecessary series of layoffs and hardships because Congress failed to extend the wind energy production tax credit in a responsible and timely manner.

Across the nation—from Oregon to Vermont—thousands of Americans working in one of the nation’s most important growth energy industries lost their jobs. We were witness to the hardships that over 5,000 Americans had to endure when they lost their jobs because of the anticipated expiration of the tax credit.

After Congress passed the tax credit extension in January, the nation’s wind industry began a very troubled recovery. The clearest example is the loss of investments. In 2012, the wind industry invested nearly $25 billion. In the first six months of 2013, the wind industry installed just one turbine—a 99 percent drop in investments. This Congressionally sanctioned uncertainty has hit the nation’s wind industry incredibly hard.

The current wind energy production tax credit is due to expire on December 31, 2013. We respectfully urge you not to repeat the legislative brinksmanship of 2012 and to adopt a responsible multi-year extension of the production tax credit so that the wind industry and related industries can plan for a smooth transition to the expiration of the tax credit.

Our nation has some of the best wind resources in the world, but the lack of stable policy hinders the nation’s ability to develop them fully. The nation’s wind industry developers do not need this tax credit forever, but they do need policy certainty in the near term to bring their costs to a fully competitive level. Please support our states in the pursuit of economic strength, energy diversity, and consumer savings, by acting quickly to adopt a responsible multi-year extension, even if it reduces in value over time, of the production tax credit.

The letter was signed by:

  • John Kitzhaber, Oregon

  • Dennis Daugaard, South Dakota

  • Terry E. Branstad,  Iowa

  • Lincoln D. Chafee, Rhode Island

  • Jay Insleee, Washington

  • Steve Bullock, Montana

  • Martin O’Malley, Maryland

  • Pat Quinn, Illinois

  • Neil Abercrombie, Hawaii

  • Mark Dayton, Minnesota

  • Sam Brownback, Kansas

In addition to congressional leaders, the letter was also sent to:

  • Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee members

  • Senate Finance Committee members

  • House Ways and Means Committee members

  • Ernie Moniz, Secretary, U.S. Department of Energy

  • Sally Jewell, Secretary, U.S. Department of the Interior

  • Heather Zichal, Deputy Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change

Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.

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Farms with just one or a handful of different crops encourage fewer species of pollinating and pest-controlling insects to linger, ultimately winnowing away crop yields, according to a new study.

Up to half of the detrimental impacts of the "landscape simplification" that monocropping entails come as a result of a diminished mix of ecosystem service-providing insects, a team of scientists reported Oct. 16 in the journal Science Advances.

Monocrop palm oil plantation Honduras.

SHARE Foundation / Flickr / CC BY-NC 2.0​

"Our study shows that biodiversity is essential to ensure the provision of ecosystem services and to maintain a high and stable agricultural production," Matteo Dainese, the study's lead author and a biologist at Eurac Research in Bolzano, Italy, said in a statement.

It stands to reason that, with declines in the sheer numbers of insects that ferry pollen from plant to plant and keep crop-eating pests under control, these services will wane as well. But until now, it hasn't been clear how monocultures affect the number and mix of these species or how crop yields might change as a result.

Aiming to solve these questions, Dainese and his colleagues pulled together data from 89 studies cutting across a variety of landscapes, from the tropics of Asia and Africa to the higher latitudes of northern Europe. They tabulated the number of pollinating and pest-controlling insects at these sites — both the absolute number of individuals and the number of species — along with an assessment of the ecosystem services the insects provided.

In almost all of the studies they looked at, the team found that a more diverse pool of these species translated into more pollination and greater pest control. They also showed that simplified landscapes supported fewer species of service-providing insects, which ultimately led to lower crop yields.

The researchers also looked at a third measure of the makeup of insect populations — what they called "evenness." In natural ecosystems, a handful of dominant species with many more individuals typically live alongside a higher number of rarer species. The team found as landscapes became less diverse, dominant species numbers dwindled and rare species gained ground. This resulting, more equitable mix led to less pollination (though it didn't end up affecting pest control).

"Our study provides strong empirical support for the potential benefits of new pathways to sustainable agriculture that aim to reconcile the protection of biodiversity and the production of food for increasing human populations," Ingolf Steffan-Dewenter, one of the study's authors and an animal ecologist at the University of Würzburg in Germany, said in the statement.

The scientists figure that the richness of pollinator species explains around a third of the harmful impacts of less diverse landscapes, while the richness of pest-controlling species accounts for about half of the same measure. In their view, the results of their research point to the need to protect biodiversity on and around crops in an uncertain future.

"Under future conditions with ongoing global change and more frequent extreme climate events, the value of farmland biodiversity ensuring resilience against environmental disturbances will become even more important," Steffan-Dewenter said.

Reposted with permission from our media associate Mongabay.

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