National Taxpayers Union

Post image for The Case against the Clean Energy Deployment Administration, a.k.a. the Green Bank

Today, I participated in a telephone press conference on the Department of Energy Loan Programs Office and a proposed Clean Energy Deployment Administration. They are similar, in that they both are tasked with using taxpayer money to subsidize financing for “clean” energy sources. Each is intended to function like a green bank.

My colleagues on the call were: Ryan Alexander, President of Taxpayers for Common Sense; Henry Sokolski, Executive Director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center; Andrew Moylan, Vice President for Government Affairs at the National Taxpayers Union; and Jack Spencer, Research Fellow at the Heritage Foundation.

Here’s the attendant press release, with a link to audio from the press conference; here’s a coalition letter we (and others) signed to urge the Congress to shelve the proposed Clean Energy Deployment Administration, which is under consideration in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Below are my introductory remarks.

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Post image for More on Energy Department’s Awful Green Bank

Yesterday, I participated on a panel discussion about the Department of Energy’s Loan Guarantee Program for low carbon energy sources. I’ve long been a fierce opponent of the DOE’s green bank—see here, here, here, and here for my take.

In a nutshell, I argue that investment banking is well outside the core competency of Energy Department bureaucrats, so there is no reason to believe that they could start a successful green bank from scratch. Even if they could, political concerns would trump economic reasoning, such that loan authorizations would get funneled to the well-connected, instead of the deserving.

Regarding this last point, consider this recent report by the Center for Public Integrity and ABC News, on the remarkable correlation between the success of DOE Loan Guarantee applications and the amount of money that the applicant raised for Barack Obama’s campaign for the White House.

In addition to the panel, we also organized a coalition letter to the House Appropriations Committee, on the need to excise the DOE’s green bank from the budget. Signatories included CEI, Taxpayers for Common Sense, George Marshall Institute, National Taxpayers Union, and the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center. Click here for a copy of the letter.

Yesterday on this site I explained why a “Do Nothing Congress on Ethanol Would Do a Lot of Good.” I also mentioned that today, a coalition of free market groups would be publishing an open letter advising Congress to let the clock run out on tax favoritism and trade protection for corn ethanol.

The groups issuing the joint letter are the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), Freedom Action, the American Conservative Union, Freedom Works, National Center for Public Policy Research, and National Taxpayers Union.

CEI’s press release appears below. It includes commentary by yours truly on Obama Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s announcement of new biofuel initiatives at a press conference this morning, a link to the coalition letter, and a link to video excerpts of a speech in 2006 by then Gov. Tom Vilsack. The video illustrates the famous French adage, plus ca change, plus c’est la meme chose (loosely translated, “The more things change, the more special-interest politics stays the same”).

CEI’s press release follows:


Nicole Ciandella, 202.331.2773
Tax-Subsidized Ethanol Boondoggle Set to Expire
Coalition Urges Congress to End Tax Breaks Tariff Protection for Ethanol


Special tax credits and tariff protection for ethanol are set to expire at the year’s end. To counter the corn ethanol lobby, which urges Congress to reauthorize these special-interest giveaways plus enact new mandates and subsidies, a coalition of free-market groups advises Congress to “do nothing” and let the clock run out on the tax credit and tariff.

The domestic ethanol industry currently enjoys a 45¢ per gallon “Volumetric Ethanol Tax Credit” (VEETC), which costs taxpayers $5-6 billion annually, and a 54¢ per gallon protective tariff, which prevents lower-cost Brazilian ethanol from competing in U.S. markets.

“Congress has a rare opportunity to avoid $25-30 billion in new deficit spending, ease consumers’ pain at the pump, and scale back political manipulation of energy markets by literally doing nothing,” the coalition told Congress in a letter today.

The groups issuing the joint letter are the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Freedom Action, American Conservative Union, Freedom Works, National Taxpayers Union, and National Center for Public Policy Research.

The coalition released its letter today because Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack held a press conference this morning announcing new Obama Administration biofuel initiatives.

Vilsack said the VEETC should be extended on a “short-term, fiscally responsible” basis, but would not define what that means. Similarly, he said the tariff should “eventually” expire, but would not propose a timetable for phasing it out.

“In 2006, when Secy. Vilsack was Governor of Iowa, he said the exact same things – that the tariff and tax credit eventually had to end,” said Marlo Lewis, Senior Fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute. “Gov. Vilsack didn’t say then when the phase out should start – and Secy. Vilsack is still not saying.” A video excerpt of Gov. Vilsack’s 2006 remarks on ethanol is available on Youtube.

“For fiscal, humanitarian, and environmental reasons, the ethanol tariff and tax credit must go,” said Lewis.

Read the full coalition letter here.