On Monday night, Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI) said he would be in favor of ending century-old subsidies to the oil and gas industry, if clean energy tax breaks end as well. But when Upton has had the chance to nix the oil industry’s $4 billion tax breaks, he has voted repeatedly to preserve them.
UPTON: I’m for putting all of these on an even footing,” Upton said during a debate against Democratic challenger Mike O’Brien. “Let’s look at the oil and gas subsidies, let’s take them away. Let’s let them compete just like everyone else at the same level. We can do that with the tax code to take those special provisions away.
Each time the House has held a vote on oil subsidies, Upton voted along party lines against closing the industry’ tax breaks. Meanwhile, Upton has led the Republican campaign against clean energy, with 12 hearings and meetings, 300,000 documents, two subpoenas, and more than a million dollars spent on the Solyndra investigation that has turned up no evidence of wrongdoing.
At a time the industry has recorded record-breaking profits, even oil execs have agreed they “do not need incentives” to produce oil. Republicans have argued the need for a “level energy playing field,” while the oil and gas industry continues to benefit from permanent tax breaks, but clean energy still must compete in a field heavily tilted to favor fossil fuels. Unlike oil subsidies, clean energy tax credits — like the wind production tax credit — need to be renewed periodically and are responsible for attracting billions of dollars in private investment.