On Monday night, EPA Chief Scott Pruitt said the U.S. government should stop subsidizing favored energy industries over coal and natural gas suppliers.
When addressing a crowd of agricultural advocates at a Kentucky Farm Bureau event, Pruitt said crony capitalism is unfair to businesses, and is not the right way to handle environmental concerns.
The Daily Caller reports:
Tax credits to solar and wind companies prevents public utilities from being able to effectively generate power, Pruitt told an agricultural advocacy group Monday. Wind and solar tax credits are set to expire in 2020 and 2022, respectively.
“I would do away with these incentives that we give to wind and solar,” Pruitt said, referring to the solar investment tax credit and other incentives for wind power. “I’d let them stand on their own and compete against coal and natural gas and other sources.”
Solar and wind power get 326 and 69 times more in subsidies than coal, oil, and natural gas, according to 2013 Department of Energy data collected by Forbes. U.S. solar and green companies received $13 billion in subsidies during 2013, compared to $3.4 billion in subsidies for fossil fuels, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.
Pruitt also noted that eliminating the subsidies would help public utilities make for a more reliable energy grid, one dependent on market forces, not government largesse. His recommendation comes shortly after the Energy Department reported in August that green energy and regulations are hurting coal power generation.
Coal plants are closing because they are unable to compete with cheap natural gas and, to a lesser extent, subsidized green energy technology in a low electricity demand environment, the DOE noted in the report. DOE head Rick Perry directed the agency in April to hash out some of the elements affecting the country’s electric grid.
Most of the coal and oil retirements from 2011 to 2015 happened because plant owners chose to shut down rather than invest in expensive instruments required to comply with EPA’s final Clean Power Plan rule, which was finalized during the Obama administration.
When the government subsidizes what it thinks are greener energy industries, it hurts business and disrupts natural competition in the market.
The emissions goals required are not encouraging industries, they’re shutting them down. When the government gets involved in the market, it only makes things worse.
As TFPP has previously reported, Pruitt also recently announced that he would sign a proposal to end the Obama Administration’s Clean Power Plan for that very reason.
Pruitt claimed the real purpose of the plan was less about clean energy and more about an unfair government overreach that created winners and losers without a basis in real competition in the market.
“That rule really was about picking winners and losers,” Pruitt said. “The past administration was unapologetic, they were using every bit of power, authority to use the EPA to pick winners and losers on how we pick electricity in this country. That is wrong.”
Pruitt’s recent statements show that the battle against government overreach in the power industry is far from over.
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