Conservatives: Let Wind Power Tax Credit Die

Mitt Romney ran into a political buzzsaw in the battleground state of Iowa when he came out against the wind energy production tax credit in early August, and has mostly avoided talking about the issue since then. But supporters of the Republican presidential nominee are stepping up their opposition to the key subsidy.

Americans For Prosperity, a group founded and backed by the billionaire brothers David and Charles Koch, last week sent a letter to every member of the U.S. Congress urging them to allow the PTC to expire at the end of this year and put a stop to the “deplorable practice of using the tax code to favor certain groups over others.”

wind-SMUD

image via Shutterstock

Among the businesses under the Koch Industries umbrella are Koch Pipeline Company and the refining and chemical company Flint Hills Resources. The letter targeting the wind power tax credit doesn’t address the question of subsidies for oil or other fossil fuels production – neither present-day subsidies, nor, perhaps more importantly, the substantial subsidies that helped build the fossil fuels industries and give them a dominant position in today’s energy landscape.

As Duke University’s Bill Chameides has argued, “The critical subsidies for oil, gas and coal cannot be found on recent government ledgers — they occurred in the late 19th and early 20th century when these technologies were just getting started.”

Chameides cites the work of Nancy Pfund and Ben Healey, who compared total state and federal subsidies for different energy sources during their formative years:1918-1947 for oil and gas, 1947-1976 for nuclear, 1980-2009 for biofuels, and 1994-2009 for wind and solar.

The result? As a percentage of the federal budget, oil and gas got five times more than renewables (nukes did even better, fetching 10 times what renewables got).

Yet in its letter, signed by 64 organizations in all, AFP argues that “If a new technology truly has worthwhile benefits for American consumers such as lower cost, higher efficiency, or environmental benefits, then that technology will demonstrate its value by competing in the open market for consumers’ dollars—not by living off of special provisions in the tax code.”

Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Alex-Lester/100001046509730 Alex Lester

    Well the credit does need to be phased out over some number of years. The rich gain from these credits and if we are to have more competitive rates these types of preferances need to go.

  • disqus_HUVXCgD9Sw

    Please note the conspicuous absence of any mention of tax preferences that currently favor the oil companies – which I think get something like 30 billion a year

    • Pete Danko

      Indeed! As the story states: “The letter targeting the wind power tax credit doesn’t address the question of subsidies for oil or other fossil fuels production – neither present-day subsidies, nor, perhaps more importantly, the substantial subsidies that helped build the fossil fuels industries and give them a dominant position in today’s energy landscape.”
      Thanks for your note!
      Pete

  • Alan Morford

    Vermont gets direct grant money supporting Maple Syrup farms – in the Farm Bill. Soooo, wind “farming”, as some call it these days, isn’t worth of a break on taxes BUT Maple Syrup is important enough to get the money straight up. WOW – lobbying really thrives tiny bits of information used without any context.

  • Patrick Moctezuma

    “…deplorable practice of using the tax code to favor certain groups over others.” That’s EXACTLY what the federal government should use the tax code for. That’s it’s job! The only other alternative in doing its job to guide which industries will benefit America the most, moving forward, is outright prohibition (or the converse- a legal obligation to do something). The entire argument is a complete hypocrisy and propaganda- especially as it comes from billionaires who have benefited so mightily from my tax dollars subsidizing the oil industry in various ways.

    These Tea Party wing-nuts no absolutely nothing about governance or public policy, and everything about aping the message that the Koch Brothers want broadcast into the blogosphere.