One of Iowa's U.S. Senators says he's surprised at how far the state's wind energy production has come. Iowa continues to lead the nation in wind energy, and Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley was among its early backers. This week the US Department of Energy reported Iowa generates more than 30 percent of its power from wind, the highest percentage in the country. Grassley says back in 1992 when he pushed for tax incentives for wind energy, he didn't expect it would get this big.
"I'm glad it is," Grassley says, "but I'm just telling you I didn't foresee that."
Grassley says the tax incentives buoyed the young industry that now is helping to reverse the trend of manufacturing jobs moving abroad.
"You hear about corporations going to Mexico. We have corporations in Iowa from Spain, Germany and coming from other states to manufacture components for us," Grassley says, "And so it's just a thrill to have it be so successful."
Grassley says there are 7,000 wind energy jobs in Iowa. The government supports for wind will expire in five years, and for solar in six years, which the senator says further reflects the growth.
"These subsidies will end because these are mature industries," Grassley says, "and I guess the 30 percent figure shows you how successful it's been and how mature it is."
Budget not likely to face delay
In a conference call with reporters, Grassley also commented on the upcoming budgeting process.
Despite partisan bickering in the Senate surrounding the vacancy on the Supreme Court, Grassley says he's confident the critical budgeting process will not be held up. Grassley chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee and insists he will not hold hearings toward confirmation of a new Supreme Court justice. The Republicans want the next president to appoint the new justice. Democrat Harry Reid of Nevada, the Senate Minority Leader, has said he will not retaliate through the budgeting process.
The Senate has an agreement to take up individual appropriations bills this year, rather than one large omnibus.
"It looks to me like we're going to have a smoother process in the Senate than we've had for seven or eight years, when we pass one appropriation bill," Grassley says, thanks to Sen. Reid's public confirmation of his intention to honor the deal made last December.
But Grassley cautioned the process may not go as well in the House.