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The “Don’t Pick Winners and Losers” Crowd Loves Picking “Winners and Losers” Itself

Posted By Lowell F. on December 19th, 2013

So, let us see if I get this straight. The oil and gas industries claim they are too frail to give up their welfare check, they tell Sen. Max Baucus.

Our concern is that the proposals in your discussion draft – such as extending the period during which businesses can recover their operating or labor costs – as in the case of drilling expenses – will take cash away from capital-intensive businesses like ours and significantly reduce future domestic investment. In addition, proposals to extend depreciable lives and eliminate valid, long standing accounting methods, like LIFO, will also significantly hurt energy businesses seeking to grow and invest in new capital projects.

Remember that these are the same companies which continue to rake in enormous profits, quarter after quarter, and certainly don’t need taxpayer-funded corporate welfare from the government.  Meanwhile, the political allies of these same companies simultaneously argue that we should eliminate popular public policy support for clean power.

Ten senators — nine Republicans and Democrat Joe Manchin — want Baucus and ranking member Orrin Hatch to allow the production tax credit for wind to expire at the end of the year. “Continuation of the wind PTC now only picks winners and losers, it is distorting out energy markets and it’s past time to end a temporary tax credit that was put into law in 1992,” the senators write.

Note that the “don’t pick winners and losers” crowd doesn’t mind doing the picking itself?  These fossil fuel folks don’t have any problem with being wildly inconsistent, that’s for sure.

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Top Expert on Energy Subsidies Demolishes Bjorn Lomborg’s Disinformation

Posted By Lowell F. on November 17th, 2013

We’ve called out Bjorn Lomborg (an “associate professor of statistics” who is “not a climate scientist or economist,” but who is well known for his “extensive and extensively documented errors and misrepresentations”) a couple times on this blog, including this post by Tigercomm President Mike Casey.

Here’s Bjorn Lomborg, apparently trying to curry the favor of fossil fuel funders with another piece that talks down clean energy and that wholly ignores the staggeringly large dirty energy welfare.

This is not the first time that Lomborg, a discredited “skeptic” around global climate disruption, has plunged into the world of clean energy policy

Now, Lomborg’s back at it yet again, with more disinformation and deception on clean energy in a Wall Street Journal piece entitled “Green energy is the real subsidy hog.”  This is a favorite argument of cleantech bashers, one that’s particularly tiresome because it’s so wildly false.  Unfortunately, despite its falsehood, this “argument” has gotten significant play over the years. In large part, this is because – as Jeffrey Sachs points out in today’s Washington Post – the oil and gas industry has almost unlimited money to spend both to “bury climate-change information and policies.” They also use their enormous profits to fund a network of “think tanks” specifically geared towards promoting fossil fuels and bashing the rising clean energy industry.

Fortunately, in spite of all their money and disinformation, there’s one thing the fossil fuel folks can’t buy: the truth.  And that leaves them vulnerable to thorough debunkings of their falsehoods.  For instance, we strongly recommend the demolition of Bjorn Lomborg’s Wall Street Journal hit piece by Doug Koplow, one of the leading experts in the world on the subject of energy subsidies. If you have a few minutes, check out the entire deconstrucdtion of Lomborg’s “argument.” For now, here are a few highlights:
  • Not only is green energy NOT a “subsidy hog,” in fact “dollars to renewables were quite small until the early 1990s, and become mere rounding errors for that time period once one removes (as I believe they should) support to corn ethanol and large scale hydro plants.” In contrast, “subsidies to oil and gas date back at least a century.”
  • Lomborg also ignores negative “exernalities,” and “ignored externalities mean artificially low delivered prices for fossil fuels, and systematic underinvestment into improved efficiency and conservation.”
  • Unlike the fossil fuel folks, who deny that the massive taxpayer-funded corporate welfare they receive is even a “subsidy,” the “people in the wind or solar industries…are actually quite candid that what they are getting from the government are subsidies.”
  • The Wall Street Journal, where Lomborg’s op-ed appears, “has run numerous editorial pieces on subsidies to wind and ethanol.” In stark contrast, the Wall Street Journal “has run pretty much nothing on subsidies to nuclear or to fossil fuels — the only exceptions being postings by people claiming, as Lomberg has, that the fossil fuel subsidies are small and mostly pretend figments of crazed greenie imaginations.”  On this same topic, we also recommend the superb report by the Checks & Balances Project, “Fossil Fuel Front Groups on the Front Page,” which explains how fossil-fuel-funded front groups “have been secretly influencing the media and the public on energy issues by moving pro-fossil fuel messaging.”

Heritage Foundation: It’s Bad if the Government “Intervenes,” Unless It’s Taxpayer-Funded Welfare to Their Funders

Posted By Lowell F. on September 11th, 2013

Why are we not surprised at this?

The political arm of the Heritage Foundation, the conservative group that’s influential among Republicans, is urging lawmakers to reject bipartisan energy efficiency legislation that the Senate resumed debating Wednesday.

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“Like most government-initiated efficiency programs, this one is fatally flawed because it is based on the idea that businesses and families will act irrationally unless the government intervenes,” Heritage Action for America said Wednesday.

Of course, this is a group that’s received over $4.5 million from the Koch brothers between 1997 and 2011, plus much more from other fossil fuel interests. No wonder why Heritage “avidly supports federal approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, which would greatly increase tar sands imports from Canada and directly benefit Koch Industries and other major oil companies as a result.” Also no wonder why they’ve “misinterpreted the impacts of global warming on the US economy; twisted news reports to justify claims about ‘climate taxes; issued deceptive economic analyses and presentations; and released allegations about economic ruin and job losses from green stimulus investments by Congress.”

Meanwhile, Heritage’s “reasoning” in opposing energy efficiency improvements is completely illogical and internally self contradictory. After all, if this group truly believes that government should never intervene in the marketplace (e.g., by providing taxpayer-funded subsidies to select industries) , then how come they don’t make the case for ending corporate welfare to their fossil fuel donors? After all, federal subsidies to fossil fuels have amounted to nearly $600 billion over the past 60 years. Yet the Heritage Foundation  doesn’t utter a word of protest against that government interference in the marketplace. Apparently, it’s ok if government tilts the playing field to the advantage of the fossil fuel companies, which (just coincidentally, we’re sure!) happen to fund the Heritage Foundation. It’s fascinating how this works, isn’t it?

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