Leading GOP Presidential hopefuls like Sarah Palin and Jon Hunstman are trying to best Democratic calls to repeal Big Oil’s subsidies by claiming we need to get rid of all energy subsidies. Now, I agree that we can add ethanol’s boondoggle to Big Oil’s, but we have to remember that
There are massive embedded disadvantages against emerging technologies that have to compete against those fuels that have huge infrastructures already in place. The question shouldn’t be, ‘Let’s get rid of all energy subsidies.’ The question should be, ‘Let’s get rid of subsidies for mature technologies that have proved that they are profitable. ‘
The public investment in continuing to give a small boost to renewables will reap huge returns down the road, as renewable energy features plummeting costs, in contrast to escalating costs for nuclear and coal. And from 2002-08 fossil fuels received nearly a 6-to-1 advantage of federal subsidies compared to renewable energy. Granted the 2009 stimulus bill bumps renewables up, but they’re still way behind what fossil fuels receive.
–Tyson Slocum Directs Public Citizen’s Energy Program. Follow him on Twitter @tysonslocum