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Zombie Wind PTC

December 2, 2014

Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-Kan) represents Kansas’s 4th congressional district and has been reelected again to return in the 114th Congress. He wrote today in The Hill: “Congressman’s response to Sierra Club and union’s call to extend wind PTC“:

Kansans, like all Americans, love freedom and are willing to work hard creating real and lasting jobs for their families: they just want government to get out of their way, stop picking winners and losers and let them innovate.

The Wind Production Tax Credit has expired. It’s been out of our lives for nearly a year. Why on earth would we bring back this zombie tax favor at the expense of the wage earning families that can afford it the least?

zombie mike pompeo kansas

For context see Wikipedia: “United States Wind Energy Policy

See also the following non-zombie links:

NYtimes: “Solar and Wind Energy Start to Win on Price vs. Conventional Fuels” by Diane Cardwell, Nov. 23:

For the solar and wind industries in the United States, it has been a long-held dream: to produce energy at a cost equal to conventional sources like coal and natural gas. That day appears to be dawning.

Those prices were made possible by generous subsidies that could soon diminish or expire, but recent analyses show that even without those subsidies, alternative energies can often compete with traditional sources.

It’s time for wind tax credit to get blown away” by Thomas Pyle, a father and “Expert on all things energy” writes:

a vote for the tax credit is a vote for Obama’s climate change agenda. But there’s another important reason to reject the wind production tax credit: America’s largest and wealthiest corporations exploit the subsidy at taxpayers’ expense.

Both Pyle and Congressman Pompeo make reference to the same Warren Buffett quote, where Buffett says he only invested in wind because tax credits made it beneficial. This talking point seems to miss the point entirely, it’s not a useless subsidy if the businesses weren’t going to do it otherwise. This tax credit seems to be a real incentive to get change to happen. The climate is out of control, it’s changing and that’s terrifying and we don’t know what to do, so setting up ugly wind mills at least makes it seem like we are doing something! Now that it’s finally nearing competitiveness it’s not time to pull the plug, keep going and push the transition away from dirtier fuels!

Also, jobs! The go ploy of every bill, but this sounds like this is more jobs than the Keystone Pipeline and it’s cleaner.. See Huffington Post: “The Wind Energy Production Tax Credit Isn’t About Politics, It’s About People” by Mary Anne Hitt, Director, Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign:

The PTC has expired and been renewed many times in the past, creating a boom bust cycle that isn’t healthy for any industry. The last time this happened, 5,000 jobs were lost and some developers seriously questioned America’s commitment to a clean energy future. It’s time to stop beating around the bush and tell Congress and wind energy investors that Americans want clean, wind energy and our energy policies should reflect that.

And the public likes it, see The Energy Collective: “New Poll Finds 73 Percent of Voters Support Crucial Tax Policy for Wind Energy” by Shauna Theel:

The Gotham Research Group poll found 73 percent of registered voters support continuing the Production Tax Credit (PTC), including 63 percent of registered Republicans, 74 percent of Independents, and over 71 percent overall in all regions of the country.

Ironically, Obama might have to veto it anyway, see Mother Jones: “Will Obama Pull the Plug on Wind Energy?” by Tim McDonnell:

President Obama threatened to veto a $440 billion package of tax breaks negotiated by a bipartisan group of legislators

Concluding:

Whatever tax deal Congress ultimately passes will probably include the PTC, says Jim Marston, vice president of US energy policy at the Environmental Defense Fund. Some of the credit’s biggest proponents are powerful Republicans from windy states, such as Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who said on the Senate floor last week that gutting the PTC “would cost jobs, harm our economy, the environment and our national security.” But a veto could mean a long delay—and more of the uncertainty that the wind industry fears.

Seems like the Kansan and Iowan republicans disagree about their wind credits? Is this a fault line within the Republican party, or are they setting up a lose-lose situation for President Obama. Maybe it’s actually a win-win. Who knows. Because yes, Ms. Hitt, it may be about people, but it’s clearly about politics.

Sioux City Journal: “Iowa wind energy tax credit under fire” by Erin Murphy:

U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, who authored the tax credit in 1992, says he is open to the eventual elimination of the incentive. But he says it should be phased out, not eliminated all at once.

“I know it won’t go on forever. It was never meant to, and it shouldn’t,” Grassley recently said in remarks on the U.S. Senate floor. “I’m happy to discuss a responsible, multi-year phase-out of the wind tax credit.

Contrast Wall Street Journal: “Wind Power Is Intermittent, But Subsidies Are Eternal” By Tim Phillips:

Over the past seven years, the PTC has cost taxpayers $7.3 billion, and it is expected to pay out $2.4 billion more in 2015.

The program operates as one of America’s least-known wealth-redistribution schemes, forcing taxpayers to pick up the tab for wind farms beyond their borders.

Is that really the problem, or is this mostly big business oil-coal interests holding on to power. See, The Hill: “Americans for Prosperity urges Congress to reject wind tax credits” by Laura Barron-Lopez:

The conservative Americans for Prosperity is pressing Congress to oppose an extension of tax credits for the wind power industry.

Is it about innovation or prosperity? All we are is dust in the anthropocene.

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