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Udall, Bennet Disappointed by Senate Wind Tax Vote

The US Senate has rejected the latest attempt to extend a popular wind energy production tax credit, even as wind power companies in states such as Colorado are threatening mass-layoffs if the credit goes away as it’s scheduled to at the end of the year.

Companies say the wind power production tax credit is helping alternative energy become cost-competitive with oil and gas.  It’s also led to a boom recently in top-wind producing states such as Colorado.  More than 6,000 people here are now directly employed by the industry. 

Many of those are manufacturing jobs, something not lost on Senator Mark Udall.

"Vestas alone could layoff more than 80% of its 1,800 workers in Colorado if the PTC is not extended," Udall told KUNC. "Every one of those jobs is an excellent job with benefits."

Senators failed to garner the 60 votes needed to amend the extension into the broader highway bill Tuesday. 

They also rejected a competing Republican-measure sponsored by South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint to end all energy subsidies.  

"If we let the market work, we're going to have wind, we're going to have solar, but we're going to have it in a way that doesn't waste the money of hard-working taxpayers," DeMint said during floor debate on his amendment.

Udall and fellow Colorado Democrat Michael Bennet  are pledging to find a new legislative vehicle for the tax credit extension as soon as possible.

“Standing on its own, this tax credit has bipartisan support, and Colorado companies are counting on us to get it across the finish line," Bennet said in a statement.

Kirk Siegler reports for NPR, based out of NPR West in California.
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