Fossil Fuel Industry and Koch Brothers Align to Kill Extension of Wind Energy Tax Credits

Jim Marston, Environmental Defense, Austin, TXIt seems that every year, renewable energy advocates are forced to respond to some false claims made by oil or coal interest groups trying to mislead the public and legislators into believing that solar and wind energy are not worth supporting.  Even though wind power is a clean, renewable, homegrown form of energy that is good for people, business and the environment, fossil fuels are simply hardwired into this country’s DNA.  So it is not surprising that fossil fuel companies defend their subsidies and tax breaks and don’t want clean energy competitors to cut into their support.  

Around this time last year, renewable energy advocates were announcing good news – the production tax credit that helped spark remarkable growth in America’s wind energy industry had been extended through 2013.  And it amounted to more than just a one year bump.  Because the extension applied to projects begun in 2013, rather than completed in 2013, the credit could be applied to more projects over a longer period of time. 

But this December, the extension is scheduled to expire and forces are lining up to speak out against the production tax credit’s future.  

Enter the Koch brothers, oil billionaires who also own large coal companies.  Their political arm, Americans for Prosperity, is targeting vulnerable Republican members of Congress with an estimated $75 million ad campaign urging them to let the production tax credit expire this December “once and for all.”  As they see it, the support of tax credits for renewable energy is considered ‘meddling,’ but the estimated $447 billion in tax dollars through subsidies and tax breaks that fossil fuel companies have received since 1918 isn’t.  

iStock_000016587533MediumThe fact that renewable energy tax credits have to be debated every year or two certainly gives the impression that the industry can’t compete on its own without them.  But the truth is that the fossil fuel industry has been propped up by the federal government for nearly 100 years and likely could not maintain its competitive edge without the government’s support.  Fossil fuel industry leaders recently admitted to this weakness when U.S. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus put forth a proposal to end cherished tax breaks for oil and gas drillers, stating that, if adopted, this provision would “cripple” the recent shale oil boom. 

The subsidies and tax loopholes that fossil companies have exploited over the last century would make most reasonable people blush.  But not the Koch Brothers.  They want more, and that means killing legislation that would jeopardize the coal industry.  And because coal subsidies don’t have to be renewed every year, we don’t get to have a debate about why an industry that is supposedly so competitive and so good for America needs the kind of government aid that renewable energy companies are seeking.

If the Koch Brothers and the fossil fuel industry want to even competition in the energy sector, let them forego all of their governmental favoritism, tax breaks and subsidies first.  Until the government and market begin valuing clean energy resources fairly, we’ll be back here next year having the same debate.

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  1. PeterK
    Posted December 28, 2013 at 5:44 am | Permalink

    “let them forego all of their governmental favoritism, tax breaks and subsidies first” –

    the same tax breaks that other manufacturers receive and as for subsidies they don’t get any. a subsidy is a direct payment from the government to an industry, individual or group.

    ‘Government burn $70 billion a year subsidizing renewables, and wild claims of “fossil fuel subsidies” debunked”

    from the UK
    “When a tax is not a tax; when a subsidy is not a subsidy: the liberal-left’s Orwellian assault on our language”

    ‘Lawrence Solomon: Fossil fuels now beat wind and solar on environmental as well as economic grounds”

    ‘The reality is that oil companies, especially Big Oil (Exxon, BP, Shell, etc.), really don’t get any federal subsidies, if that term means “getting money to do something,” as Harold Hamm, CEO of Continential Resources reminded Congress in September when he testified that, ”Some call the expensing of ordinary business expenses a “subsidy.” Now my recollection of what a subsidy means is when you are given money to do something. I guess when I drilled 17 dry holes in a row I missed that pay window. No one sent me a check.””

    when the EDF starts to honestly report on issues I might consider donating but not until then

  2. Joe Zorzin
    Posted December 29, 2013 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

    Does the EDF have any issues with large scale wind “farms”? Such as, some have been proposed in ecologically sensitive areas (New England Ridge tops) or near homes? You have no issue with the massive subsidies or the intermittancy of wind power? Of course all sources of energy have issues, but apparently EDF sees none with wind?

  3. Posted January 2, 2014 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Just to let you know, a new method of converting smokestack emissions, landfill garbage, flare gases, sewage, old tires and other carbon based societal wastes into an EPA approved 130 octane biodegradable fuel has been developed and is awaiting funding for a pilot plant.

    Imagine a world with a 95% reduction in tail pipe emissions! Please contact me and let me know if I can send you more information.

    Sincerely, Mark Snider
    Bioroot Energy LLC

    • Dr. Rita McLaughlin
      Posted January 3, 2014 at 4:12 pm | Permalink

      Please send me information about the biodegradable fuel being developed from wastes of our society!

2 Trackbacks

  • By December 28 Energy News | geoharvey on December 28, 2013 at 11:51 am

    […] ¶   ”Fossil Fuel Industry and Koch Brothers Align to Kill Extension of Wind Energy Tax Credits” Americans for Prosperity is targeting vulnerable Republican legislators with an estimated $75 million ad campaign to end windpower incentives. [Environmental Defense Fund] […]

  • By Friday Linkage 1/3/2014 | My Green Misadventure on January 3, 2014 at 11:52 am

    […] Fossil Fuel Industry and Koch Brothers Align to Kill Extension of Wind Energy Tax Credits—Anytime you read a story about some group opposed to renewables it always seems to come back around to the Koch Brothers.  Do these guys like anything besides money and Fox News?  Heck, they probably do not even like Fox News that much.  Just money. […]