U.S. wind may lose in budget debate

Dec. 17, 2012 at 8:32 AM

MINNEAPOLIS, Dec. 17 (UPI) -- A pro-wind power official from Minnesota said existing renewable energy tax credits means it's cheaper to build a wind farm than a coal-fired power plant.

U.S. lawmakers are debating ways to prevent a series of tax hikes and budget cuts that would automatically enter into force without a new deal by year's end.

Joe DeVito, a vice president for the Minneapolis chapter of pro-wind group RES Americas, told the Star Tribune newspaper in Minneapolis that existing tax credits made wind energy relatively inexpensive.

"When you compare the cost of new generation, a wind farm is far cheaper than a new coal plant," he said.

His comments come as the International Energy Agency reports that, with the right policies in place, national governments and energy companies can offset some of the environmental damage from open-pit mines by reshaping the surrounding landscape.

"Companies now are leveraging the economic and technical capacity of the mining operation to upgrade the affected land and surroundings at very low additional costs, creating new and possibly more useful space for nearby communities even if the landscape is not returned to the previous state," the agency stated.

A November report from the U.S. National Wildlife Federation finds that "oil, gas, and coal companies have contributed nearly $1 billion to members of Congress" since 1999.

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