This week U. S. Representative Mike Pompeo of Wichita plans to introduce the “Energy Freedom and Economic Prosperity Act,” a bill that would eliminate all tax credits related to energy.
Tax credits, sometimes called tax expenditures, are spending accomplished through the tax code rather than by legislative appropriations. Two prominent tax credits related to energy production are the tax credit for producing and blending ethanol with gasoline, and the production tax credit for wind and solar power production. These industries have claimed that the tax credits are necessary for these forms of energy to be economically viable.
Pompeo’s office estimates that the bill could save up to $90 billion in tax expenditures over the next ten years. The legislation proposes that these savings be used to reduce the corporate income tax rate.
The subsidies that would be repealed include, according to Pompeo’s office: Plug-In electric and fuel cell vehicles, Alternative fuel and alternative fuel mixtures, Cellulosic Biofuel Producer Credit, Alternative fuel infrastructure, Production Tax Credit for electricity produced from renewable sources, including wind, biomass, and hydropower, Investment Tax Credit for equipment powered by solar, fuel cells, geothermal or other specified renewable sources, Enhanced oil recovery credit, and credit for producing oil and gas from marginal wells, Advanced Nuclear Power Generation Credit, and Clean coal investment credits.
This bill targets tax credits only. Loans and loan guarantees are not a subject. This bill would not affect the programs that funded Solyndra, a high-profile example of failure. This bill would not affect the $132.4 million loan guarantee recently given to a cellulosic ethanol plant in southwest Kansas, either.
Pompeo’s office stresses that this is not a bill targeted at renewable forms of energy like ethanol and wind. It affects all tax credits, including those that are directed at the nuclear, coal, and oil and gas. The goal is to get government out of the energy sector and let markets direct energy investment.
This bill represents a continued effort by Pompeo to reduce government intervention and to give more freedom to markets. Politically, it puts him at odds with many in this state who favor expansion of wind energy in Kansas. In particular, Kansas Governor Sam Brownback is a proponent of wind power and ethanol. Wichita Mayor Carl Brewer is also promoting Wichita as a place for wind power companies to locate.