The American Energy Alliance announced on Jan. 8 “the nation’s first and only free-market congressional energy accountability scorecard.” But how much of their new scorecard will be devoted to getting mature, highly profitable fossil fuel industries off corporate welfare?
In AEA’s announcement, it declares the new Scorecard will “educate lawmakers” and “empower the American people,” while holding our representatives accountable for their votes on important energy issues. The first issue that it demands lawmakers vote for is the Keystone XL pipeline.
Would an organization that believes so strongly in free markets and stands so firmly against subsidies for the wind industry also declare itself uniformly against subsidies for the oil, gas, and coal industries?
After all, that seems to be the principle of free markets as AEA defines them. If wind energy producers must “stand on their own two feet,” then shouldn’t fossil fuel producers, as well?
$18.5 Billion for Fossil Fuel Subsidies
According to an analysis by Oil Change International, the federal government’s subsidies for fossil fuel exploration and production have increased by 45% since 2009 to $18.5 billion per year.
AEA’s President Thomas Pyle declared in a statement published on its website on Dec. 17 that subsidies like the wind production tax credit (PTC) are like “taking money out of the pockets of hardworking Americans to stuff the stockings of foreign corporations and wealthy investors.” Pyle said we must “unwind this culture of cronyism.”
After more than a century of subsidies by the federal government to encourage the growth of oil, gas and coal, we have to wonder. Is Pyle serious about eliminating energy subsidies? Or is his demand of accountability just a bunch of wind?
I called the American Energy Alliance’s spokesperson Chris Warren and asked him if the scorecard would include lawmakers’ votes against fossil fuel subsidies.
No Straight Answer
“We’re going take these on a vote by vote basis,” said Warren. “I can’t give you a straight answer.”
I tried again. Would the AEA score votes on subsidies for the oil, gas, and coal industries?
“We’re against subsidies in general,” Warren declared. “We believe in free markets. Energy industries should be able to stand on their own two feet and compete.”
So, the American Energy Alliance is against all subsidies. Who knew? Maybe their scorecard might have some value after all.
Scott Peterson is executive director of the Checks and Balances Project, a Virginia-based watchdog that seeks to hold government officials, lobbyists and corporate management accountable to the public.