Giving away the (wind) farm

Across the windswept Midwest, wind turbine companies — often based overseas for tax shelters — have lobbied for low or non-existent property taxes rates and steep depreciation schedules.

The big losers in the deal? Rural school districts that depend on those property taxes.

In a multi-state reporting collaboration, Flatland, the digital magazine of Kansas City PBS, and the Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting, an independent, nonprofit newsroom in Illinois, uncover how states like Kansas have given away the wind farm.

Illinois touted as property tax model for wind farms

Illinois’ taxing model for wind energy companies is touted as one of the best in the country, bringing in $30.4 million in property taxes in 2016, according to economic experts.

Federal tax credits drive foreign wind investment

Investment in U.S. wind energy production has increased tenfold over the past decade with the help of billions of dollars in federal tax help, with foreign companies making up much of the increase.

Reports question environmental good of ethanol

While ethanol has been hailed as an environmental boon, whether the use of ethanol as a fuel has a positive effect on the environment has been contested, even beyond spills.

Ethanol spills on the rise in the Midwest

An ethanol spill occurs every two days on average in the Midwest, the worst of which result in contamination of water supplies, major fish kills, loss of life and millions of dollars of damage. The Midwest Center for Investigative Reporting found that as production and transportation of ethanol has risen dramatically in the region over the past three decades, so have ethanol spills.