Iowa’s wind energy industry is reducing the amount of pollution in the state’s waterways and air, according to a new report from the group Environment Iowa. Spokesperson Michelle Hesterberg outlined some of group’s findings in a conference call with reporters today. “We are avoiding climate-altering carbon pollution equivalent to taking 1.7 million cars off the road and we are saving enough water to meet the needs of over 158,000 people (per year),” Hesterberg said.

As opposed to other forms of energy production, generating wind energy requires virtually no water. Iowa Wind Energy Association Executive Director Harold Prior noted Iowa is on track to nearly double its wind production in the next five years, which would boost the environmental benefits. “Basically, we’d be talking about removing the equivalent of over 3 million cars from the road by the end of 2018,” Prior said.

Wind turbines currently produce nearly 25-percent of all the electricity generated in Iowa. Prior said the industry has been “extremely beneficial” to the environment. “Even those that argue that the manufacturer of a major wind turbine component does create some pollution, the statistic that I’m aware of…indicates the carbon footprint that is developed by manufacturing a wind turbine is displaced by that turbine’s operation within the first year of operation,” Prior said.

Russ Winterhoff, a farmer from Aurelia, also took part in the conference call and called on Congress to extend federal tax credits for wind production, which are set to expire at the end of this year. “You know, the rest of the industry – coal, nuclear, natural gas – are all subsidized heavily and it’s just a tough business environment to compete in if we don’t level the playing field out there,” Winterhoff said.

In 2009, Winterhoff became the first farmer in Iowa to build two wind turbines on his land to power his turkey farm.

See the full report here: