HEADWINDS: The wind energy boom President Barack Obama touted as key to his energy strategy has hit a wall in an election-year dispute over taxpayer support for renewable energy.
PUSHING/PULLING: The government poured billions of dollars into renewable energy, hoping to unleash a wave of good-paying, high-tech manufacturing jobs. But federal spending to support development of green energy has dropped sharply— 75 percent since 2009 — amid tea party criticism that it's wasteful. Congress' failure to extend past December the production tax credit, a wind-energy tax break first signed into law by Republican President George H.W. Bush, has contributed to job cutbacks from South Carolina to Washington state.
ELECTION FATE: Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and Obama fought during the campaign over the fate of the tax credit. Romney has called for its expiration, while Obama supports its renewal. The credit stalled in Congress this summer in the face of opposition from House Republicans, and the last chance to extend it comes in December's lame-duck session. Amid the gridlock, Vestas, the Danish company that Walker Components supplies, closed offices and laid off hundreds of U.S. workers. Wind businesses from South Carolina to Washington state also have cut jobs.