Local View: Fossil fuel subsidies dwarf wind energy incentives
reprinted from JournalStar.com 11-19-15

In response to the opinion column “Support affordable energy by ending corporate welfare” LJS, Nov. 14) here are three questions for author Thomas J. Pyle, president of the American Energy Alliance, with ties to the Koch Brothers oil company.

Why did you fail to call for an end to government/taxpayer-funded fossil fuel subsidies? Are you going to call on Nebraska’s U. S. senators and representatives to repeal oil, coal and gas subsidies? Aren’t oil companies able to stand on their own without subsidies? The fossil fuel industry has been getting federal subsidies for 100 years. The cumulative cost of oil, coal and gas subsidies dwarf wind energy incentives.

It’s ironic, if not downright hypocritical, for Mr. Pyle to complain about the wind production tax credit.

According to the U. S Treasury Mid-Session Review of the Budget of the United States Government for Fiscal Year 2015 the U. S. government provides eleven permanent federal fossil fuelproduction tax provisions with a 10-year nominal annual revenue average cost of $4.7 billion or nearly $38 billion since 2008, the same time period that Mr. Pyle complains about the wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC) costing $7.3 billion. Those fossil fuel production subsidies cost U.S. taxpayers 8 times more than the wind PTC during that same period.

Excerpts from a July 2014 report by Oil Change International state, “The value of fossil fuel exploration and production subsidies from the federal government have increased by 45 percent since President Obama took office in 2009 – from $12.7 billion to a current total of $18.5 billion. President Obama has repeatedly tried to repeal some of the most egregious of these subsidies, but these attempts have been blocked by a U.S. Congress that has been bought out by campaign finance and lobbying expenditures from the fossil fuel industry…the U.S. government also provides billions of dollars of additional support to the fossil fuel industry to lower the cost of fossil fuels to consumers, finance fossil fuel projects overseas, and to protect U.S. oil interests abroad with the military.”

Electricity consumers benefit via the lower cost of wind energy generation. According to the U.S. Department of Energy 2014 Wind Technologies Market Report issued August 2015, “The relative economic competitiveness of wind power improved in 2014. The continued decline in average levelized wind PPA prices, along with a continued rebound in wholesale power prices, left average wind PPA prices signed in 2014 below the bottom of the range of nationwide wholesale power prices. Based on our sample, wind PPA prices are most competitive with wholesale power prices in the Interior region. The average price stream of wind PPAs executed in 2013 or 2014 also compares favorably to a range of projections of the fuel costs of gas-fired generation extending out through 2040.”

Mr. Pyle’s organization appears to deny the negative impact of fossil fuels on the climate or the need for consumers and taxpayers to be concerned about climate change, its impacts on the weather and our food production. The expert, unbiased University of Nebraska report Understanding and Assessing Climate Change: Implications for Nebraska, released in September 2014 states: "We need to develop strategies now to adapt to the changes and this project must begin at the local level.” Its Executive Summary states, “For more than a decade, there has been broad and overwhelming consensus within the climate science community that the human-induced effects on climate change are both very real and very large.”

Renewable energy is an economic powerhouse for Nebraska and America. The federal wind PTC facilitates economic development and should be extended by Congress. Nebraska and national polls overwhelming confirm that strong majorities of Americans want more renewable energy, including ethanol, wind energy and solar. Wind energy is clean, uses no water and pumps billions of dollars into our economy every year…$100 billion in private investment since 2008. Wind energy emits zero greenhouse gases or conventional pollutants. The wind industry employs 73,000 people in construction, development and engineering across more than 500 U.S. manufacturing facilities. Nebraskans want more wind energy, not more misinformation from oil industry representatives and lobbyists.

Dan McGuire lives in Lincoln and represents the American Corn Growers Foundation. He is also Co-Chair of the Annual Nebraska Wind and Solar Conference.


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