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Monday, April 15, 2013

Advanced Energy Economy send letter to House Ways and Means Committee asking for phaseout of oil subsidies, Tom Steyer pledges to use own cash to defeat candidates bad for the environment

Group urges tax-writers in House to phase out energy incentives

by Zack Colman E2, The Hill, April 15, 2013

A coalition of “advanced energy organizations” wants the House Ways and Means Committee to phase out permanent energy tax incentives in favor of "self-regulating” benefits that push clean-energy technology.

Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) sent a Monday letter to the tax-writing committee urging lawmakers to make those changes, arguing the existing tax structure buoys energy sources — such as those from fossil fuels — that no longer need federal support.

“On the basis of this framework, we could move the United States toward a more efficient, business-focused energy tax code that spurs innovation, avoids market distortion, and reduces taxpayer burden,” said AEE CEO Graham Richard said in a Monday statement.

While the prospects of Congress taking up tax code reform remain unclear, AEE has a powerful backer in billionaire former hedge fund manager Tom Steyer.

Steyer, a member of AEE's board, has pledged to wade into congressional campaigns with his own cash to defeat candidates he considers bad for the environment. 

He has threatened to flood the Democratic primary of the Massachusetts special Senate race to punish Rep. Stephen Lynch's (D-Mass.) for his support of the Keystone XL oil sands pipeline.

On the policy level, Steyer and AEE are pushing wholesale changes to energy tax incentives that would overhaul green- and fossil fuel-energy incentives alike.

AEE outlined four principles for what it considered sound energy incentives: tailor subsidies to drive innovation and commercialization; automatically sunset incentives “when market-based objectives are achieved”; use performance metrics instead of calendar dates to renew or end incentives; and ensure subsidies are technology neutral.

AEE said none of the 26 existing energy tax incentives achieved more than two of those goals.

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