Opinion: Sen. Bernie Sanders Defends Wind Industry Subsidies

Wall Street Journal • Posted: Friday, January 4, 2013

Regarding your Dec. 26 editorial “The Winds of Washington” and the companion op-ed by Phil Gramm “The Multiple Distortions of Wind Subsidies”:

I have been trying to figure out what principle underlies your opposition to encouraging the development of clean, renewable energy sources that create American jobs and could help us avoid the planetary calamity of global warming.

Are you really worried about budget deficits? While railing against modest incentives for wind energy, you say nothing of the more than $113 billion in federal subsidies that will go to fossil-fuel industries over the next 10 years alone. These subsidies benefit some of the wealthiest corporations on the planet, including the five largest oil corporations, which made a combined profit of $1 trillion over the last decade.

Do you really think there should be a 20-year cutoff for support for “mature” industries? If that’s your yardstick, I look forward to your support for my bill to end subsidies for the century-old fossil-fuel industry. While you’re at it, how about taking on the massive corporate welfare over the past 65 years for the nuclear-power industry, which has received more than $95 billion (in 2011 dollars) in federal research and development support?

Do you really believe in closing tax loopholes? Please. I missed your outrage over Exxon-Mobil, XOM -0.18% one of the most profitable corporations in history, paying no federal income taxes in 2009 and in fact receiving a rebate from the IRS.

Is Sen. Gramm really concerned about “preferential treatment by the Bureau of Land Management?” If so, he might have dripped a little of his disdain in the direction of coal companies and their single-bid, sweetheart leases to mine on federal lands without paying fair value in royalties to the U.S.

Here’s the bottom line: Scientists now foresee the earth warming by 8 degrees Fahrenheit or more by the end of this century. That would be catastrophic. It’s already past time to get serious about the threat of global warming. One important way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions is by supporting wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and other sustainable energy sources.

Sen. Bernard Sanders (I., Vt.)