46 Republicans Claim Wind Credits Are Too ‘Costly’ After Voting To Retain Billions In Big Oil Subsidies

The future of wind tax credits is still tied up in Congress as the clock runs down to extend the production tax credit for wind (PTC) expiring at the end of the year. This week, 47 House Republicans urged House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) to let them expire.

Although GOP districts hold 81 percent of the nation’s wind power capacity, Republicans are deeply split on investing in wind (Mitt Romney, for example, drew criticism from fellow Republicans for opposing the PTC). Boehner’s home state supports up to 6,000 wind jobs.

The GOP remains less divided on issues favoring Big Oil.

Of the 47 Republicans asking Boehner to end the wind investments, 46 voted in March 2011 against closing tax loopholes that let Big Oil collect $4 billion in annual subsidies. The one outlier, GOP Rep. Richard Hanna, was a no-vote that day. According to OpenSecrets, these representatives have received a total $2.2 million from the oil and gas industry, in an election cycle where Republicans have collected 89 percent of the oil industry’s contributions. Republicans have maintained these tax breaks are “essential” to an industry posting record-breaking profits.

Yet their letter claims wind is too expensive for investment. An excerpt reads:

Today, when the U.S. is more than $15 trillion in debt and borrowing $0.40 of every dollar it spends, we cannot afford to borrow money to subsidize the operations of a politically preferred technology. In the case of wind, doing so would not only be costly to taxpayers but ultimately would hurt consumers by distorting energy markets.”

The letter’s arguments echoes Americans for Prosperity’s campaign to end PTC. The Koch-funded organization called wind tax credits “deplorable.”

The PTC allots wind farms to draw on the 2.2 cents per kilowatt hour of electricity they produce in the first decade of operation. The Associated Press recently compared wind investments to government support of shale gas, which existed for decades before today’s natural gas boom. The oil and gas industry has long taken advantage of these and other tax breaks — fought for and maintained by Republican allies — that outnumbered federal support for renewables in the first 15 years of available subsidies.

19 Responses to 46 Republicans Claim Wind Credits Are Too ‘Costly’ After Voting To Retain Billions In Big Oil Subsidies

  1. Mike Roddy says:

    So 47 Republican Congressmen can be bought for a couple of million dollars, or nickels and dimes for the oil companies. This is really gross.

  2. Ron Kerzner says:

    Remember it’s never about what’s right. It’s always about what is profitable

  3. BillD says:

    We still don’t really know if the shale investment is a good one or one that we come back to haunt us. With the price of both wind and solar coming down so quickly, one has to ask why the Republicans take such a short sighted view.

  4. SecularAnimist says:

    BillD wrote: “one has to ask why the Republicans take such a short sighted view”

    That’s what they are paid to do, as this article makes clear. The GOP is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the fossil fuel corporations. They don’t care about what’s best for America. They care about protecting the profits of the fossil fuel corporations from competition. That’s why they are trying to destroy the wind and solar industries.

  5. Dan B says:

    I was curious about the cost of the wind PTC versus the subsidies to big oil. The NYT said the wind PTC is $1 billion per year. This is one quarter of the $4 billion for big oil.

    The GOP generally doesn’t like “new” things, neither does the fossil fuel industry. What’s equally striking is they wave the “free market” flag but they hate actual competition.

  6. Chris Winter says:

    James Howard Kunstler, in two recent books — The Long Emergency (2005) and Too Much Magic (2012) — argues that the U.S. passed its peak-oil point in 1970 or soon after. I dispute some of Kunstler’s opinions, but I am loathe to dispute him on this. In any case, it is generally accepted that oil is a finite resource and that we have already used up half the world supply of conventional crude. Output from the North Slope and North Sea fields is declining. Even the Saudis, according to Kunstler, promise to increase output but are unable to do so.

    Thus petroleum producers are turning to unconventional sources like shale oil and tar sands, from which inferior-quality oil is obtained at higher cost and with greater environmental damage. So it could be argued that oil-industry subsidies are justified to support the transition to these new sources. (To me it seems an absurd argument in the face of the industry’s record profits; but no doubt it could and will be made.) Or, the counterargument could be made that the best moves oil companies could make are to start cutting back unconventional oil production and ramping up investments in renewable energies.

    But the history of large corporations teaches us that disruptive technologies almost never take root in established industries. IBM ignored minicomputers. The minicomputer makers ignored microcomputers. Kodak ignored digital imaging. Makers of mimeograph machines no doubt ignored Xerox. (And Xerox even ignored its own research arm. But that’s another story.)

    So, if these Republicans really object to government picking winners and losers, they should stop defending oil-industry subsidies. But they won’t.

    Why is it that foresight is so seldom nothing more than a marketing slogan?

  7. Chris Winter says:

    Last sentence S/B: “Why is it that foresight is so often only a marketing slogan?

  8. Mark Shapiro says:


    This is yet another simple argument for all our conservative friends, for our Republican friends, even for our libertarian friends. Fossil fuels get government subsidies. Fossil fuels increase the debt. Fossil fuels get special favors.

    We do have conservative friends, don’t we?

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Cheaper by the gross.

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Or as Andy Warhol said of ‘art’, it’s what you can get away with.

  11. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I’d say that with the greenhouse contributions of the fugitive methane and the burning of the gas, the pumping of millions, nay billions, of litres of toxic waste-water into the earth and the sabotaging of real renewables, the chances of fracking being a good thing are infinitesimal. It will do wonders for the wealth of Them, the Masters, however, and isn’t that all that really matters?

  12. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Having just read a vicious smear job on Rachel Carson, fit for Fox News or Quadrant, in the NYT, I rather think that I will ignore pretty much anything they or any other propaganda organ of the business MSM says, as ever.

  13. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I believe the Chinese have an expression ‘Explaining Heaven to a pig’, that denotes useless and unrewarded effort. Explaining anything to a Rightist, all of whose opinions are formed by the groupthink of numerous, thoroughly indoctrinated, reptilian brains, and who are immune to reflection and intellectual growth, is a similarly pointless effort, although this comparison is rather insulting to pigs.

  14. Merrelyn Emery says:

    You are in good form this morning Mulga, ME

  15. Mark Shapiro says:

    THank goodness not all conservatives are Rightists.

  16. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Real conservatives, eager to preserve that which is good, ennobling and beneficial, have my full support. What is an ecologist but someone who wishes to conserve human life and the beauty and bounty of Nature on this blessed planet? The other ‘conservatives’, the misanthropic reactionaries and Rightwing poltroons, ought to be prosecuted for falsely advertising themselves.

  17. Lionel A says:

    …ought to be prosecuted for falsely advertising themselves.

    Or even be prosecuted for frivolously prostituting themselves.

  18. Bob Emery says:

    Thank you, you speak the truth. Come November any of the 47 up for reelection should be sent home without a job.

  19. Rakesh Malik says:

    Of course they do what they’re paid to. They’re not qualified to do anything else. Their only skills are in writing laws, but they haven’t any qualifications to determine what laws need writing, so they go with whatever their owners tell them to do.

    The US is clearly a government of the dollar, for the dollar, and by the dollar. There’s no democracy here, only a pretense.