Clean Energy Financing Is Important for Our Energy Future

A Texas Wind Farm

U.S. Department of Energy

This week, as part of a long sought desire for a large tax reform package, the Senate Finance Committee will be hearing on the potential for clean energy tax incentives.

The Wilderness Society has discussed this issue many times over the years, including just two weeks ago. Predictable tax incentives for clean energy are a crucial part of the smart planning that must accompany large scale renewable energy projects on public lands. In order to make sure that renewable energy is sited responsibly and in low impact areas, investors need to make sure that their financing is certain with long term planning – in the absence, we will see a rush to get permits approved to meet deadlines for expiring incentives. Making sure that renewable energy development is “Smart from the Start” is vital to directing energy to low impact areas with less sensitive land and wildlife.

It is also important because our country needs to move towards renewable and clean energy and away from fossil fuels. One of the obstacles to doing this, however, is the sheer amount of money that taxpayers direct to the big oil and gas companies. The oil and gas industry gets $4 billion in tax breaks annually. For an industry that has made over $1 trillion over the last decade, the amount of tax subsidies they receive is a drop in the bucket for the industry, but a big burden for American taxpayers. But BP, the company infamously responsible for the disastrous Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill, is complaining that their taxes are too high. They made $2.7 billion in the last 3 months alone, and just short of $7 billion already this year, but apparently that is not enough for them.

When the Senate Finance Committee convenes tomorrow to discuss how to structure our taxes for the future, hopefully the keep all of these relevant facts in mind. Hopefully, they remember that stable financing for clean energy is crucial for our land and that financing for clean energy is important for a transition from fossil fuels to clean, renewable energy. Hopefully, they also remember that an industry that is incredibly profitable does not need more handouts from the American taxpayer. Clean energy financing is vital to the future of our wildlands, fossil fuel financing should be a thing of the past.