Despite Special Interests, Congressmen Stand Strong
Last November, Congressman Mike Pompeo (R-KS) introduced the Energy Freedom and Economic Prosperity Act (EFEPA) (H.R.3308), a bill that would eliminate all energy tax subsidies, including those for oil and gas. Fellow Kansas Congressman Tim Huelskamp signed on as a co-sponsor, and the two have since been targeted by the wind industry for trying to eliminate their subsidies.
Under normal circumstances, both men would deserve praise for their leadership on this important issue. But this is no normal circumstance because Siemens, a prominent producer of wind energy, has a wind farm in Hutchinson, Kansas, which is in Rep. Huelskamp’s district. In this case, he deserves a medal for standing on principle because many lawmakers go wobbly when parochial interests are knocking on their door. Indeed, Siemens’ wind farm would directly benefit from the extension of the failed the Wind Production Tax Credit, but Rep. Huelskamp has held firm.
Why? Because he understands Americans cannot afford to subsidize every industry under the sun (or that blows into town…).
We are in debt up to and beyond our eyeballs, and industries that require massive government subsidies to compete cannot, and should not, stay afloat in the free market. There is also the small fact that Siemens is hugely successful, multi- billion-dollar company that does not need to be subsidized.
Now, some local proponents of wind energy are naturally upset. They want to remove subsidies for oil and gas, but not for wind. (Oh quick aside: they wrongly claim Rep. Huelskamp wants to keep subsidies for oil and gas while denying wind energy its fair share of the handouts.). If they were better informed, they would know that Rep. Huelskamp wants to remove tax subsidies for all energy industries, to level the playing field and stop the government’s market-distorting practice of picking winners and losers.
But Reps. Huelskamp and Pompeo know that repealing oil and tax first will result in no other industries getting their subsidies repealed. While Conservatives have shown a willingness to repeal oil and gas subsidies by introducing and co-sponsoring EFEPA, their political foes have not made taken any similar action. They haven’t even discussed ending “green” energy subsidies rhetorically.
Conservatives need to remain above the fray by reminding liberals that we are for ending energy subsidies. All energy subsidies. They need to remind the media that they are not for continuing the practice of picking winners and losers in the energy market.