NEWTON, Iowa — President Barack Obama urged Congress on Thursday to extend tax credits for clean energy companies the White House says are responsible for some 37,000 jobs.
On his way back from a fundraising and campaigning tour in California, Obama stopped in the Midwestern state of Iowa, which he hopes to win over his likely Republican adversary Mitt Romney in November elections.
He toured wind turbine blade manufacturer TPI Composites, saying the wind industry has “taken off” thanks to tax credits. In Iowa alone, wind energy accounts for nearly 20 percent of electricity use.
“America now has enough wind capacity to power 10 million homes. So this is an industry on the rise… It’s an industry that’s putting people to work,” said Obama, a vocal backer of green energy jobs during his 2008 campaign.
But he warned that progress made on that front was now “in jeopardy” if Congress does not extend tax credits that will expire at the end of the year.
“If Congress doesn’t act, companies like this one will take a hit. Jobs will be lost,” Obama said.
“That’s not a guess. That’s a fact. And we can’t let it happen.”
He recalled that the city of Newton, Iowa, was hit hard by the closure of the headquarters of home and commercial appliance company Maytag, now a division of Whirlpool.
Heather Zichal, Obama’s deputy energy assistant, says up to 37,000 renewable energy jobs are at stake and could disappear if Congress does not extend the tax credits.
Obama has unveiled a new line of attack against his Republican adversaries in Congress, urging lawmakers to act on a “to do list” of measures aimed at boosting the weak economy.
The US unemployment rate fell to 8.1 percent in April but remains far from the five percent of early 2008, before the global financial crisis hit with full force. Weak job growth is one of the main threats looming over Obama’s chances of winning a second term.