Growing grassroots support for letting wind tax breaks expire

The expiration date of the federal wind production tax credit (PTC) is 4 short weeks away. Knowing that it’s carve out is slated to be cut, the wind energy industry is lobbying feverishly for an extension, repeating the same tired arguments and unrealized promises about long-term job creation and energy affordability. Currently there is a growing of support at the grassroots level for ending this misguided handout for the wind industry. When members of Congress went back to their districts during the Thanksgiving recess, they heard from the people who will face higher taxes and electricity bills as a result of this tax credit. They should listen.

This past month, a diverse coalition of over 100 organizations representing millions of Americans sent a letter to Congress, calling on Congress to allow the wind PTC to expire. The organizations that signed onto the letter are not the group of suspects that typically weigh in on Capitol Hill, nor do they have much in common besides their strong opposition to extending tax breaks for the wind industry.

ADVERTISEMENT
Some of the organizations are neighborhood associations focused on stopping wind developers from installing turbines in their local areas. Others are taxpayer watchdog groups that are worried about government overspending and intervention in the private marketplace. Many are environmental preservation groups that are concerned about the impact of wind farms on bird and bat populations. The coalition is diverse and broad, and it shows that clearly there is no shortage of reasons to oppose tax breaks for the wind industry.

By no means is the 100+ coalition letter an isolated example of the grassroots opposition to extending wind subsidies. Over the past year, over 23,500 Americans for Prosperity activists in all 50 states took action and sent an email to their members of Congress, encouraging them to oppose extending the PTC after its scheduled expiration on December 31, 2013. 

With this surge of grassroots support for letting the wind PTC expire, lawmakers on Capitol Hill may be beginning to notice. Two weeks ago, Rep. Pompeo (R-Kan.) released a Dear Colleague letter with the signatures of bipartisan group of 52 of his colleagues, calling on House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) to let the wind production tax credit (PTC) expire. “The inclusion of the PTC without regard to its individual merit is part of what has produced the overly complicated system that tax reform seeks to address,” the Pompeo letter correctly points out.

When the House Ways and Means Committee engages in comprehensive tax reform, whether it happens this year or next year, it should not include an extension of the PTC and similar tax carve outs. This has a symbolic importance: If Congress isn't willing to get rid of this carve out for one special interest, then how can we expect it to be willing to eliminate it for any others?

This year, Congress should allow the wind production tax credit to expire as scheduled—not phase it down, not extend it. Millions of citizens and over 100 organizations across the country are calling on them to do so.

Hanson is Federal Affairs manager for Americans for Prosperity, a conservative advocacy group.