This past week, the President Obama and Congress reached an agreement and ratified a new fiscal deal. What are its implications for environmental politics?

To see the downside, check out Andy Kroll at Mother Jones on the oil subsidies.

On the upside, wind industry received a boon as the Production Tax Credit (PTC), which subsidizes the construction of new wind energy, was extended for another year and the rules were changed. Now, construction does not need to be completed and producing electricity in order to receive money; instead, the credit funds construction.

While this announcement is a welcome relief, throwing a lifeline to the wind energy industry, the fickle nature of its funding in the United States remains problematic. Annual concerns about the extension of this tax credit have become as predictable a ritual as the Thanksgiving and New Year's holidays between which the countdown annually takes place.

Frustrated by the unstable PTC and seeing the job growth that the wind industry produces, a bipartisan group of 24 governors sent a letter to President Obama in July 2011, demanding the tax credit be extended by seven years in order to continue growth in the industry.

At the time, the American Wind Energy Association reported that wind energy was up 72% in the first half of 2011 over 2010, as a result of the PTC's extension but that "orders for 2013 and beyond are scant because of the lack of a predictable business environment, causing layoffs and even bankruptcies in American manufacturing plants." When the figures for 2012 are in, the wind energy industry expects it will have been another record year, surpassing both 2010 and 2011.

Tax credits are the least reliable way to fund renewable energy. Over the years, producers of renewable energy components, such as wind turbines, have pulled out of the U.S. and moved production hubs elsewhere, since many other countries offer more reliable sources of funding.

The International Energy Agency reported in July that global wind generation is set to grow by 40 percent by 2017. The U.S. could cash in on the growth in this industry, creating jobs, reducing emissions and protecting the environment.

According to the U.S. Department of Energy, wind energy could supply up to 20% of U.S. electricity by 2030.

The Sierra Club, which has a Wind Works campaign, says more than 400 U.S. companies build windmills or components related to them.

The American Wind Energy Association says that allowing the PTC to expire would have slashed 37,000 in manufacturing, installations and maintenance nationwide. The wind industry supports 7,000 jobs in Iowa, 5,000 in Colorado, 6,000 in Ohio and between 3,000 and 4,000 in Pennsylvania. During last fall's campaign trail, Obama targeted Romney's opposition to the extension in Iowa, Colorado, Ohio and Pennsylvania -- all swing states.

So why isn't the U.S. shifting from fossil fuels to renewable energy more quickly? That's where the oil, gas, and coal lobbies, which agitate for their own subsidies, come in.

Tina Gerhardt is an independent journalist and academic who covers international climate negotiations, domestic energy policy and related direct actions. Her work has appeared in Alternet, Grist, The Nation, The Progressive and the Washington Monthly, as well as Business Green and Climate Progress.

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Trump's politics are not the problem.

The fiery Milwaukee Sheriff is on the shortlist to head the Department of Homeland Security.

By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.

Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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