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There is an intentional tension in Washington. Our founding fathers planned that opposing views would balance each other out—a push-pull takes place. Spend. Don’t spend.
This tug-of-war is seen, perhaps most obviously, in the so-called renewable energy field. After Solyndra, and the more than fifty other stimulus-funded green energy projects that have failed or are circling the drain, the public has grown weary, and wary, of any more spending on green energy. The money isn’t there to spend and the motive behind the 2009 rush to push billions of taxpayer dollars out through the Department of Energy has been tainted by corruption and illegal activity.
The green-energy emphasis was sold as a job creator for unemployed Americans, as a cure for global warming, and a way to fix a perceived energy shortage. It sounded so positive in the many speeches President Obama gave.
Today, Americans know better.
Watching multiple predictions fail and proponents get rich, Americans instinctively know that the whole global warming agenda doesn’t add up—as evidenced by this week’s International Conference on Climate Change where more than 600 “skeptics” from around the world gathered to discuss what the real data shows.
With headlines heralding: “North Dakota has joined the ranks of the few places in the world that produce more than a million barrels of oil per day,” people know there isn’t an energy shortage. And America’s new energy abundance is on top of our rich reserves of coal and uranium that can provide for our electrical needs for centuries to come.
Yet, the White House keeps pushing the green-energy narrative and, on July 3, 2014, “The Energy Department Just Announced $4 Billion For Projects That Fight Global Warming,” as the headline reads at ThinkProgress.org.
Simmering just below the headlines is the push-pull over the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for Wind energy that expired at the end of 2013.
On June 26, wind energy proponents—including pages of signatories who benefit financially from the tax credit—sent a letter to the top Congressional leaders urging them to “support the immediate passage of the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act.”
On the other side, citizens, like Mary Kay Barton of New York, are sending their elected federal representatives letters asking them not to support a PTC extension as proposed in EXPIRE. She sent a letter to Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) and he sent one back to her.
Schumer opens: “Thank you for writing to express your opposition to tax credits, and subsidies for alternative energy. I share your opposition to unsuccessful and unnecessary subsides.”
He then goes into a long paragraph about his effort to put an “end to subsidies for huge oil companies” and brags about being a “cosponsor of S.940, the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, which would roll back huge subsidies and tax credit for large oil companies.” Green energy supporters, such as Schumer, like to mix the terms “subsidies” and “tax credits” with “tax deductions”—when they are completely different. A subsidy, or loan guarantee, and tax credit involves taxpayer dollars being doled out—or taxes not collected—to incentivize a favored activity. This is not how America’s oil-and-gas producers are treated. They do, however, receive tax deductions—like any other business—that allow them to write of losses and the cost of doing business against income. Additionally, as the New York Times, in a story about corporate tax rates, reported last year: “Large oil companies typically pay high rates.” It shows that the average tax rate among companies is roughly 29 percent, while “large oil companies” are paying 37 percent and utility companies that “benefited from the 2009 stimulus bill, which included tax breaks,” have an “overall” rate of 12 percent.
In response to Barton’s letter about ending the PTC for industrial wind, Schumer continues: “I believe that it is necessary to balance our country’s increasing energy needs with the need to protect the environment. We must also focus on renewable energy and energy conservation in order to meet our growing energy demands. According to one study, if the U.S. increases its efficiency by 2.2 percent per year, it could reduce foreign oil imports by more than 50 percent. Such actions would not only reduce our dependence on foreign oil but would also safeguard the environment.”
Barton told me: “You’ll note that Senator Schumer seems to think that subsidies for wind energy (electricity) will somehow ‘reduce foreign imports,’ and then references increasing ‘efficiency’ in response to a letter about inefficient, unreliable wind?” She’s picked up on one of my favorite soapboxes: we could cover every available acre with wind turbines and solar panels and it would do nothing to “reduce our dependence on foreign oil” or increase America’s energy independence. Wind and solar produce electricity and, through our coal, natural gas, and uranium supplies, we are already electricity independent. We import oil to fuel our transportation fleet.
As the fight over the PTC points out, wind energy cannot survive without the tax credits.
It is time for everyone who opposes government intervention in markets to contact his or her representatives—as Barton did—and voice opposition to the PTC extension. Call and say: “Stop supporting wind energy. It is an inefficient system that leads to perverse outcomes. The massive expansion of wind energy that we’ve seen in the past six years would not survive on a level playing field.”
The author of Energy Freedom, Marita Noon serves as the executive director for Energy Makes America Great Inc. and the companion educational organization, the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE). Together they work to educate the public and influence policy makers regarding energy, its role in freedom, and the American way of life. Combining energy, news, politics, and, the environment through public events, speaking engagements, and media, the organizations’ combined efforts serve as America’s voice for energy.