I get tired of listening to all the bleeding heart liberals and hopped up hippies talk about how all the government subsidies going to fossil fuels make the playing field unfair for 'renewable' energy. This, they say, is the reason that 'renewable' energy isn't profitable and why we aren't powering our homes with back yard windmills or rooftop solar panels. The super-green shout loudly about this disparity but never cough up facts about what government spending is so out of balance or which subsidies are unfair.
I recently found a brief put out by the Congressional Budget Office that tells where all this government money goes. The article, Federal Financial Support for the Development and Production of Fuels and Energy Technologies, can be found here. This report sums up how the Department of Energy divided its $24 billion budget in 2011. Of that $24 billion, $20.5 billion was spent on tax preferences (subsidies) and the remaining $3.5 billion went to funding research (things like Solyndra).
Table 2 in that report (seen below) shows how the $20.5 billion in government subsidies was split up among the major energy producers. The renewable energy and energy efficiency (tax breaks for energy efficient windows or water heaters) categories receive 78% of the money between the two and fossil fuels and nuclear energy get 19%. I guess that the hippie liberals were right, it is unfair. It's just unfair in their favor.
How can one industry receive nearly four times the funding as another and still complain that they aren't getting enough funding? It really sounds like they are more similar to Solyndra than we would like to believe: they are failing because their entire industry is insolvent but they have found out that if they complain loudly enough they can get more government funding to bail themselves out.
The hippie rebuttal to these clear facts is all too predictable. They shout it almost as loudly as they complain about not having enough funding. Unfortunately, this one is a little closer to the truth. They complain that: 'None of the permanent government subsidies are for renewable energy.'
This is true. There are four permanent tax preferences for the energy sector. Three for fossil fuels and one for nuclear energy. I, personally, would be in favor of removing all tax credits for energy production. Renewable energy supporters do not share this view. They know that, without government funding, the entire renewable energy industry would be bankrupt. Fine, I'll concede to some government subsidies.
My solution, then, would be to give the renewable energy and energy efficiency categories as much in permanent tax preferences as the fossil fuels industry gets right now: roughly $3.4 billion per year (down from their current, but temporary $16 billion per year). This would save the American tax payer almost $12.6 billion per year.
You're welcome. I just saved the country $12.6 billion per year. Please stop finding ways to throw my money away. Fossil fuels and nuclear energy are safe and clean. They are also something we have in abundance in America. We need to be happy with what we have instead of throwing good money after bad.