Grassroots Opposition To Resurrecting Expired Wind Tax Breaks Is Growing

Christine Harbin Director of Federal Affairs, Americans for Prosperity
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The main federal handout for wind energy, the wind production tax credit (PTC), expired at the end of this past year. Knowing that the current debate over tax extenders represents an opportunity to resurrect its carve out, lobbyists for the wind energy industry are roaming the halls of Congress, repeating the same worn-out talking points and wishful thinking about job creation and energy affordability.

Meanwhile, off of Capitol Hill, we see a surge of support at the grassroots level for ending this corporate welfare for the wind energy industry. This month, a broad coalition of 117 organizations representing millions of Americans sent a letter to Congress, calling on members to allow the wind PTC to stay expired. “American taxpayers deserve a portfolio of energy solutions that are economically viable, not those that have to be propped up by carve outs in the tax code,” the letter reads.

The first time that Americans for Prosperity circulated a version of this letter was back in 2012, with 64 organizations on board. Just two years later, the number of signers has nearly doubled, highlighting the growing opposition to this crony carve out in the tax code.

The coalition is diverse, broad, and scattered throughout the country, showing that there are many reasons to oppose tax breaks for the wind industry. This is not the group of usual suspects weighing in on Capitol Hill, nor do these organizations have much in common besides their strong opposition to extending tax breaks for the wind industry.

Many of the organizations are taxpayer watchdog groups that are worried about government overspending and meddling in the private marketplace. Others are neighborhood associations focused on stopping wind developers from installing turbines in their backyards.  The group also includes environmental preservation groups that are concerned about the impact of wind farms on bird and bat populations.

By no means is the 100+ coalition letter an isolated example of the grassroots opposition to reviving expired wind tax breaks. Over the past two years, tens of thousands of Americans for Prosperity activists across all 50 states have sent emails to their members of Congress, urging them to stand up against special interests in opposing extending the PTC.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are beginning to notice this grassroots opposition to resurrecting expired handouts for wind energy. This past month during the debate over tax extenders, Senator Alexander championed the issue in on the editorial page of the Wall Street Journal and in a colloquy with Senator Flake on Senate floor.”

On the House side, Congressman Pompeo is circulating a Dear Colleague letter on the issue, calling on House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp to oppose resurrecting it. “Ensuring that our nation’s patchwork tax code undergoes significant reform is a noble goal and, as part of this process, we believe Congress should stop picking winners and losers and finally end the wind PTC,” Congressman Pompeo’s letter reads.

When federal lawmakers return home to their districts for the Independence Day holiday, they will hear from the people who face higher taxes and electricity bills as a result of this tax credit. They should listen and allow the expired wind production tax credit to stay expired. Millions of citizens and over 100 organizations across the country are calling on them to do so.

Christine Harbin Hanson is National Issue Campaign Manager for Americans for Prosperity