EPA Chief Scott Pruitt said Monday night that the U.S. government should stop subsidizing green energy industries at the expense of coal power and natural gas suppliers.
Tax credits to solar and wind companies prevents public utilities from being able to effectively generate power, Pruitt told an agricultural advocacy group Monday. Wind and solar tax credits are set to expire in 2020 and 2022, respectively.
“I would do away with these incentives that we give to wind and solar,” Pruitt said, referring to the solar investment tax credit and other incentives for wind power. “I’d let them stand on their own and compete against coal and natural gas and other sources.”
Solar and wind power get 326 and 69 times more in subsidies than coal, oil, and natural gas, according to 2013 Department of Energy data collected by Forbes. U.S. solar and green companies received $13 billion in subsidies during 2013, compared to $3.4 billion in subsidies for fossil fuels, according to data from the Energy Information Administration.
Pruitt also noted that eliminating the subsidies would help public utilities make for a more reliable energy grid, one dependent on market forces, not government largesse. His recommendation comes shortly after the Energy Department reported in August that green energy and regulations are hurting coal power generation.
Coal plants are closing because they are unable to compete with cheap natural gas and, to a lesser extent, subsidized green energy technology in a low electricity demand environment, the DOE noted in the report. DOE head Rick Perry directed the agency in April to hash out some of the elements affecting the country’s electric grid.
Most of the coal and oil retirements from 2011 to 2015 happened because plant owners chose to shut down rather than invest in expensive instruments required to comply with EPA’s final Clean Power Plan rule, which was finalized during the Obama administration.
Pruitt and President Donald Trump have campaigned for eliminating a slew of Obama-era climate regulations, including the Paris climate agreement, a non-binding international deal that obligated the country to drastically reduce greenhouse gasses.
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