The Obama campaign has been eager to respond, especially after an Iowa Romney campaign spokesman, Shawn McCoy, said last week that the candidate favored doing away with the wind tax credit.
‘‘Mitt Romney would slash investments in clean energy, which would cede leadership of these critical sectors of our economy to competitors like China and India — and the jobs that go with them,’’ the Obama campaign said in a statement, adding that the Republican has opposed ending tax breaks for the oil industry.
The American Wind Energy Association estimates that 37,000 jobs would be lost if the tax credit isn’t extended this year. The credit was created in a 1992 energy bill signed by President George H.W. Bush and was renewed in a 2005 measure that passed a Republican Congress and was signed by President George W. Bush.
The Obama administration gave Romney an opening by overselling the promise of renewable energy jobs, said Jonathan Rothwell, a senior associate at the Brookings Institution who helped write a report on the growth of green jobs. The jobs will come, Rothwell said, but it will probably take a couple of decades. ‘‘The Obama administration did exaggerate the short-term benefits of the green economy by implying it would drive us out of the recession,’’ he said.
Rothwell noted that renewable energy jobs are well-dispersed across the country and, while small in number, are growing rapidly. ‘‘That explains why there is broad, and in some cases bipartisan support,’’ he said.
The issue came up in an annual green energy conference hosted by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid on Tuesday in Las Vegas.
Obama’s interior secretary, former Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar, noted that the Senate Finance Committee agreed on the proposal last week to extend the wind energy tax credit.
‘‘That shows it ought not to be a Republican or Democratic issue, it ought to be an American issue,’’ Salazar said, stating the administration view.
Reid said he was confident it would pass by the end of the year.
Associated Press writer Ken Ritter contributed from Las Vegas.