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New spending bill riddled with special ‘green’ handouts

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Michael Bastasch DCNF Managing Editor
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The appropriations bill Congress released Monday night is riddled with green handouts, including generous subsidies to renewable energy companies.

The bill allocates $10.2 billion to the Energy Department to support various types of energy, including commercializing green energy. Renewable energy and energy efficiency programs are allocated $1.9 billion to help commercialize green technologies — just as a loan to the failed solar company Solyndra was supposed to do.

It’s not just green energy that gets subsidies — fossil fuels and nuclear power together get nearly $1.5 billion in Energy Department spending.

“We need to be removing subsidies for all sources of energy,” said Nick Loris, energy economist with the conservative Heritage Foundation, who has been combing the spending bill for special energy handouts.

On top of energy subsidies, Loris also identified special green handouts in clean water loans and export financing. The bill gives $1.5 billion to the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, which loans money to states to improve water quality. But Congress adds one big stipulation in the bill: “to the extent there are sufficient eligible project applications, not less than 10 percent of the funds made available … shall be used by the State for projects to address green infrastructure, water or energy efficiency improvements, or other environmentally innovative activities.”

The U.S. Export-Import Bank is also required to give “not less than 10 percent of the aggregate loan, guarantee, and insurance authority .. for renewable energy technologies or energy efficiency technologies.”

The Ex-Im Bank announced that it would no longer be funding international coal projects last year to help promote President Obama’s climate agenda. But The Hill newspaper reports the spending bill prevents the bank from cutting financing to coal plants that don’t meet strict pollution criteria.

“Whether a government-backed project succeeds or fails, it is a waste of taxpayer dollars to pick winners and losers among energy technologies,” Loris added. “The market does a fine job of determining what makes economic sense and what doesn’t.”

The appropriations bill comes after President Obama signed into law a bipartisan budget act put together by Republican Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan and Washington Democratic Sen. Patty Murray. The bill undoes billions in cuts to defense and domestic programs in the coming years.

The bill was assailed by some Republicans who saw it as increasing the size and scope of government without getting any meaningful cuts. Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul ripped into the budget deal last month, calling it “shameful.”

“The small sequester spending cuts were not nearly enough to address our deficit problem,” Paul said in a statement. “Undoing tens of billions of this modest spending restraint is shameful and must be opposed. I cannot support a budget that raises taxes and never balances, nor can I support a deal that does nothing to reduce our nation’s $17.3 trillion debt.”

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