Another Koch group warns against PTC extension

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, November 12, 2014

For the second time in less than a week, conservative activists are urging Congress not to extend a key renewable energy tax credit, saying that doing so would be tantamount to endorsing President Obama’s climate agenda.

Americans for Prosperity today sent a letter to Capitol Hill outlining its objections to the production tax credit, which Senate Democrats hope to extend during the lame-duck session that begins later this week.

“Americans for Prosperity requests that you reject any package that includes the expired wind production tax credit,” writes Brent Gardner, AFP’s director of federal affairs, in a letter addressed to all members of the House and Senate. “A vote for the PTC is a vote in support of President Obama’s destructive climate action plan.”

The letter echoes many of the arguments in a broader coalition letter sent last week from the American Energy Alliance, AFP and other conservative organizations (Greenwire, Nov. 6).

Both groups are linked to the billionaire industrialist Koch brothers’ political network, which reportedly planned to spend at least $290 million in this year’s elections and aired more than 40,000 ads on behalf of Republicans and conservative causes, according to the Center for Public Integrity.

The PTC is part of a broader “tax extenders” package that would renew numerous incentives that lapsed last year. Congress is expected to act before adjourning, but the House and Senate are divided over how broad the package should be.

Republicans in the lower chamber have been pushing to make just a few of the incentives permanent, such as bonus depreciation and the research and development credit. But Senate Democrats have pushed a broader package, which won bipartisan support in the Finance Committee and would renew the PTC and about 50 other tax breaks.

Leaders in both parties are said to want to dispatch with this year’s unfinished business so as to start next year with a clean slate, when Republicans will control both sides of the Capitol. That is leading wind industry lobbyists to be cautiously optimistic about their chances of winning an extension as part of a larger extenders package, given Republican desires to see things like bonus depreciation go back into effect. But AFP, AEA and their allies are expected to keep up their pressure over the PTC through the end of this year.

While the PTC maintains support among several Republicans from windy states, conservatives say it is a giveaway to businesses that the United States cannot afford. A PTC extension would cost about $13 billion over a decade.

The wind industry says the tax credit is necessary to increase carbon-emissions-free renewable electricity, that it costs taxpayers less than permanent incentives enjoyed by the oil and gas industry, and that it supports tens of thousands of construction and manufacturing jobs.

“Anti-renewable energy groups like Americans for Prosperity are out of sync with the wide majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents who support keeping this successful policy so that we can keep this business growing and bring this low-cost clean energy to more Americans,” said Peter Kelley, a spokesman for the American Wind Energy Association.