December 19, 2013
Renewable energy fuel reform is a major issue regarding the health of the United States economy, as well as a concern of where taxpayer dollars are being used. The issue has become increasingly important the last several months with a movement in Congress to “reform” the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RFS is a “command and control mechanism” that requires a certain level of ethanol to be blended into the nation’s transportation fuel supply. The Environmental Protection Agency, which oversees the Renewable Fuel Standard, recently proposed for the first time to reduce the amount of ethanol it requires to be blended in gasoline. Even though the move was met with criticism by ethanol advocates, the reality is that the move is only a minor step that doesn’t solve the fundamental problems with the RFS policy as a whole. The move, while a small step in the right direction, would do little to reduce ethanol’s share of the annual corn crop and virtually nothing to alleviate the broad economic and environmental damage currently caused by using corn for fuel. Taxpayers are hit directly as the government's fleet of more than 600,000 owned or leased vehicles that guzzle more of the expensive fuel. With that in mind, this week TPA was part of a coalition effort led by the R Street Institute that included ActionAid USA, American Bakers Association, American Frozen Food Institute, American Meat Institute, Association of Kentucky Fried Chicken Franchisees, California Dairy Campaign, California League of Food Processors, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Dairy Producers of New Mexico, Dairy Producers of Utah, Environmental Working Group, Freedom Action, Friends of the Earth, Idaho Dairymen’s Association, International Dairy Foods Association, International Foodservice Distributors Association, Marine Retailers Association of the Americas, Milk Producers Council, National Chicken Council, National Council of Chain Restaurants, National Frozen Pizza Institute, National Franchisee Association, National Grocers Association, National Marine Manufacturers Association, National Restaurant Association, National Taxpayers Union, National Turkey Federation, Nevada State Dairy Commission, North American Meat Association, Northwest Dairy Association/Darigold, Oregon Dairy Farmers Association, Oxfam America, R Street Institute, Southeast Milk, Inc., Snack Food Association, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Washington State Dairy Federation, and Western United Dairymen sending this letter to the House of Representatives and Senate to call for elimination of the Corn Ethanol Mandate in the Renewable Fuel Standard. Taxpayers deserve better energy policy from Washington and this action would constitute a very major step in that direction.
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November 18, 2013
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This article originally appeared in Townhall.com on November 15, 2013
As is par for the course in recent years, House conservatives again find themselves the vanguard against big-spending machinations from the Executive Branch and the Senate. The latest front in this battle is the Farm Bill, which currently sits in a conference committee on Capitol Hill. Committee members are tasked with reaching a compromise between the House and Senate versions of the bill. And, compromise in Washington, D.C. usually means more spending. Though neither version is perfect, it’s the Senate Farm Bill that would bankroll billions in mandatory spending, doing little to curtail wasteful subsidies and locking into place the status quo for another five years. The House bill, on the other hand, contains deep cuts to food stamps and, more importantly, makes subsidy spending discretionary rather than mandatory. The Senate bill would cut food stamps by a mere $4.5 billion (in addition to $11 billion in already agreed-upon cuts), while the House proposal cuts an extra $40 billion - ten times that amount. For conservatives, that's certainly a better place to start. Senate Democrats are reportedly insisting they will not agree to cuts above $10 billion, so Republicans in the conference committee are tasked with holding the line.
October 7, 2013
Renewable fuel reform is an issue that is becoming more prominent over the last several months with a movement in Congress to “reform” the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS). The RFS is a “command and control mechanism that requires a certain level of ethanol to be blended into the nation’s transportation fuel supply and currently the requirement for gasoline is 10 percent. However, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is planning to increase the amount of ethanol blended into gasoline by 50 percent. The RFS policy is already a flawed one to begin with, and this directive by the EPA will only make a bad policy worse, for consumers and business. Taxpayers are also hit directly as the government's fleet of more than 600,000 owned or leased vehicles that guzzle more of the expensive fuel. One of the most obvious ways to fix this bad policy is for congress to repeal the RFS; and just recently TPA, in an effort led by Frontiers of Freedom, joined with American Commitment, National Center for Public Policy Research, National Black Chamber of Commerce, Independent Women’s Voice, Less Government, R Street Institute, 60 Plus, Energy Makes America Great Inc. Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy, Americans for Tax Reform, Americans for Prosperity, Tea Party Nation, American Energy Alliance, Capitol Research, Freedom Action, National Tax Limitation Committee, Congress of Racial Equality, Independent Women’s Forum, Heartland Institute, and Council for Citizens Against Government Waste and sent this letter to the House of Representatives and Senate to call for a full repeal on the Renewable Fuel Standard. There is no justification that an agency like the EPA wrought with recent scandals and a clear lack of transparency should have expanded power over the lives of the working Americans and the economy.
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September 24, 2013
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The Taxpayers Protection Alliance has been a tireless advocate of smart strategies when it comes to how our elected officials and federal agencies approach energy issues, and we are always looking for ways to dismantle or at least improve bad policy in this sector. Recently, one of the growing problematic policies where government has been playing favorites is the wind energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), giving tax breaks to those producing wind-powered energy. TPA joined with other free-market and taxpayer allied groups including American Commitment, American Conservative Union, American Energy Alliance, Capital Research Center, Coalition Opposed to Additional Spending and Taxes, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste, Freedom Action, FreedomWorks, Frontiers of Freedom, Heritage Action For America, Independent Women’s Forum, Less Government, Let Freedom Ring, National Center for Public Policy Research, National Taxpayers Union, R Street Institute, 60 Plus Association, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Taxpayers Protection Alliance, The Club for Growth, The LIBRE Initiative, and The Weyrich Lunch in an effort led by Americans for Prosperity by signing a coalition letter sent to Congress opposing the extension of federal funded wind energy PTCs. The letter outlines the facts behind the PTCs and exposes the reality that they don’t produce cheaper energy, they threaten electrical grid reliability, they’re inefficient, and it is unprincipled tax policy. TPA will continue to work with groups on all sides who are interested in smart tax policy as opposed to favoritism and cronyism to line the pockets of selected industries in the energy sector.
To read the full letter, click 'read more' below
September 19, 2013
(This article originally appeared on townhall.com September 13, 2013) What many Americans may not know is that the substance that is poured into millions of American fuel tanks every year can no longer be classified as gasoline. Due to legislation passed in 2007, the government requires that millions of gallons of ethanol be blended into gasoline each year to create a form of biofuel. The legislation was passed on the premise that the demand for gasoline would increase over time, making fuel more expensive. And, by mandating that ethanol be blended into gasoline, legislators believed that the country would become less reliant on traditional fuels, driving prices down in the process. But the idea backfired and consumers and taxpayers are suffering. A funny (but not unexpected) thing happened along the way to the pump. Rather than Americans guzzling down an increasing amount of gasoline, new technologies were invented that revolutionized fuel efficiency. In turn, there has been a decrease in demand for fuel, meaning that the legislation was based on a faulty premise. Now, instead of using common sense and logic by calling on Congress to reform or repeal the legislation, President Obama has been using the mandate to pedal his green energy agenda, which not surprisingly relies on higher fuel prices.» Read More
July 17, 2013
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GSA HQ in Washington, D.C. (Courtesy Wikimedia Commons)
As the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) continues to expose wasteful and unnecessary spending, we have also taken a sharp look at needless regulation. One area of particular interest to TPA for its cost to taxpayers has been the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification system that is owned by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) and used by the General Services Administration (GSA) as the exclusive system to certify federal buildings as “green.”. TPA is concerned about a private, non-consensus based non-profit organizations like the USGBC being involved in creating non-science standards that are then relied upon to dictate government policies with broad influence over the entire green building marketplace. The relationship between the federal government and the USGBC when it comes to the issue of LEED certification is something that TPA has been seeking greater transparency on for quite some time now. Not only is the USGBC dictating these policies, they are lining their pockets with taxpayer dollars because the process of LEED certification alone can cost up to $27,000, payable from the taxpayer to the USGBC.
May 16, 2013
For the past year the Taxpayers Protection Alliance (TPA) has been investigating the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) green building certification system, which inflates the cost of construction by millions of dollars per building without providing proof of any environmental or energy-efficiency benefits. Since 2010, the General Services Administration (GSA), the federal government’s landlord, has mandated LEED gold standards for all new federal buildings. The federal government, 35 states and over 170 cities now require LEED certification or give builders tax breaks for building to LEED specifications. The driving force behind LEED is the United States Green Building Council (USGBC), a 13,000-member non-profit run by activists, architects, builders and building suppliers that collects up to $35,000 in fees for each LEED certification.» Read More
April 25, 2013
Albert Einstein described insanity as “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” President Obama should take note. The Daily Caller recently had a story detailing how Obama’s budget makes the case to permanently extend carve outs and favoritism for the green energy industry. Specifically, the White House’s 2014 budget calls for “$23 billion for incentives for renewable energy production and energy efficiency programs over the next decade. An additional $2.5 billion in tax credits would be given to companies that invest in advanced energy manufacturing projects, such as facilities for green energy manufacturing — bringing the total amount of clean manufacturing tax credits to $4.8 billion when combined with credits from the stimulus package.” Thankfully presidential budgets really have no teeth to them – in that they don’t have the power to control the appropriation of funds – but they do offer great insights and an indication of what the president’s priorities are and where he’s allocating his political capital.» Read More
March 13, 2013
Although the current state of the federal government comes up short a lot of the time, there are a few redeeming glimmers of hope every now and then. More times than not, those glimmers come from an entity of government that’s asked to check up on, monitor, and audit other components and arms of the federal government. These beacons of fiscal responsibility are the Inspector Generals (IGs). IGs are extremely helpful to taxpayers for a variety of reasons, and they certainly strike a fear in whichever agency that’s the one under the microscope. For example, just recently the Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) IG found that a “Michigan battery-maker that received a visit from President Obama spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in stimulus grant money for workers to do things like watch movies and play cards, according to an inspector general report that blames poor management by the Energy Department. The wasted labor is a system of more widespread mismanagement of the company’s $151 million matching grant…”» Read More
January 16, 2013
On Monday (January 14) the Taxpayers Protection Alliance showed that bankrupt doesn’t mean the taxpayer-funded gravy train has to stop, with a bankrupt Solyndra still receiving taxpayer funds (read previous blog posting here). Today’s blog examines two contracts the government awarded to the law firm Morrison & Foerster to assist in the cleanup of the failed Solyndra experiment. These examples reveal an alarming trend, one that doesn’t look like it’ll stop anytime soon—especially considering that one of the contracts was modified as recently as November 2, 2012. There is no telling when the government will stop punishing taxpayers for mistakes made by the government.» Read More
January 14, 2013
Even though the now infamous Solyndra has disappeared from the headlines, the financial mess of Solyndra still takes its toll on taxpayers. Not many people have reported that over the past year the Departments of Energy (DOE) and Justice (DOJ) have doled out approximately $2.5 million in taxpayer money to clean up the ripple effects of the failed Solyndra experiment. Unfortunately, the federal government has failed to realize that when you’re in a hole, quit digging. This blog is the first in a two-part series of a closer examination of Solyndra. Today’s examination involves two of the three companies, Lazard Freres & Co. and Labat Anderson. The second blog, tomorrow, will discuss federal contracts awarded to the law firm Morrison & Foerester. According to the Heritage Foundation, the awards and contracts are separate from the money awarded to Solyndra as part of the loan guarantee program in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. When the government willingly risked $570 million of taxpayer money to fund Solyndra, there was good reason to be upset. But it reaches a whole new level when the federal government continues to award contracts intended to clean up the very mess it created. It’s ironic that the government is spending even more taxpayer dollars in an attempt to recoup the money it never should have spent. So how many companies received Solyndra-related contracts? How much money was awarded and for what purpose? Three companies were awarded four different contracts totaling an estimated value of $2.5 million in taxpayer money. All involve throwing good money after bad in hopes of ameliorating the problems that the government’s poor discretion caused in the first place.» Read More
November 7, 2012
(This blog post is Part I of a series looking at waste in taxpayer funding of green energy submitted by Rachael Slobodien with the Heritage Foundation. Part II of this series will appear on Friday November 9) While there’s speculation over which federally supported green energy company may be the next to declare bankruptcy, plenty have already gone belly up. In one of the most extensive compilations to date, Heritage has identified 19 bankrupt green energy companies—unable to make it even with the $2.6 billion in financial assistance and incentives the government promised. This blog is part of the “Green Graveyard” series, which will profile each of the 19 now-bankrupt companies and detail all the types of government assistance offered. These companies were all part of President Obama’s attempt to stimulate the economy by developing and expanding the “green” energy industry. The problem is that these taxpayer-funded handouts never achieve the intended objective. Rather, they artificially support politically preferred companies and industries, like green energy, while shifting jobs and resources from another sector of the economy.» Read More
October 26, 2012
President Barack Obama has spent much of the campaign touting his “all of the above” energy strategy — a proposal which, to hear him explain it, will reduce America’s reliance on foreign oil, save families and businesses money at the pump and position the United States as the global leader in clean energy.” Sounds great, right? Almost too good to be true? That’s because it is. Obama’s “all of the above” energy scheme will actually pump billions of tax dollars into economically unjustifiable green energy schemes, attacks America’s coal industry, limit domestic energy exploration, and raises the cost of products and services through a series of mandates and taxes. Worst of all, Obama’s plan to tinker with fuel mileage regulations would actually kill thousands of Americans.» Read More
August 20, 2012
Environmental activists regularly scare Americans about our domestic energy resources — and urge us to abandon development of them. Witness the various efforts to stop hydraulic fracturing, offshore and onshore drilling, and the like. What life would look like in this new green world, though, rarely gets coverage. Considering environmental activists aren't very secretive about their agenda, it's worth looking at the dramatically different lifestyle they envision for all of us.» Read More
August 14, 2012
As our nation’s economic recovery stands on faulty footing, the last thing Washington should propose are policies that would negatively impact businesses and consumers and in so doing harm the economy. Members of Congress should neither bend their ears nor waste their time considering such dead-end policies. Unfortunately, there’s no shortage of potential job-killing regulations or taxes that if implemented would hurt Americans and businesses. Encouraging innovation and creating a hospitable environment for industries to pursue new investments is exactly the engine that’s needed to lead our economic recovery. Any policies that may detract from this objective should be considered dead-on-arrival. Among the worst policy proposals out there are cap-and-trade and/or a tax on carbon. In June 2009, the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives successfully passed a bill that sought to place an arbitrary cap on carbon dioxide emissions. Fortunately proponents of the misguided policy ultimately failed to secure the necessary number of votes in the Senate to secure its passage. Since the 2010 elections, cap-and-trade, better known and more appropriately called cap-and-tax, proposals have been shunned from political discourse. This temporary victory is just that temporary; bad policies don’t disappear. Enter the carbon tax. It’s begun rearing its ugly head again, and some conservatives are the ones starting the conversation.» Read More
August 12, 2012
Like the child who just isn’t quite ready to move out of his parents’ house so too does the wind industry plead with Congress to let its lucrative subsidy stay just a little bit longer. The weak argument that the child and the industry use is nearly identical. Something to the effect of: Because this time things will work out, with just a little more money this time will be different, this time is the time they’ll make it on their own. Taxpayers shouldn’t believe it whether it is a relative at the door or Congress extending production tax credits to the wind industry. The argument the wind industry makes is that it is a sector of the economy with tremendous potential and is so close to being commercially viable. In order to make that a reality it needs just this teeny handout to help it stand on its own two feet. The additional funding which will provide the push it needs to make it competitive in the market. The promise is that a subsidy, such as the wind production tax credit, will be just the ticket that’s needed to take the industry over the valley of death to an economically viable company that produces a competitive and clean source of energy. The argument the wind lobbyists make today is nearly verbatim to what they said back in 1992. Just take a look at this 1992 New York Times article, “A New Era for Windmill Power.” The piece explains that “striking improvements in technology, the commercial use of these windmills, or wind turbines as the builders call them, has shown that in addition to being pollution free, they can now compete with fossil fuels in the cost of producing electricity.” The obvious question then is if that was true in 1992, then why did wind ever need a tax credit? A full 20 years have gone by and only 2 percent of our nation’s energy comes from wind.» Read More
July 26, 2012
Earlier this week, TPA posted a blog that discussed a new, nearly unprecedented effort on part of the Treasury Department to recoup taxpayer money that had been “awarded” to now-bankrupt green energy. While so far Treasury has only sought out one company to return its government funding, we should not downplay what a significant, noteworthy step the feds are making. One of the chief selling points of the astronomically expensive so-called American Recovery and Reinvestment Act was that it would immediately create hundreds upon thousands of “shovel ready” jobs. Over three years from its date of enactment and with an unemployment rate that has remained well above 8 percent, there’s no question that, by and large, these supposedly shovel ready jobs never came. There are several reasons for this, but the one this blog will address is the fact that many of the companies who received government money have not used it. A recent article in the Boston Herald provides more information about two such companies.» Read More
July 24, 2012
Yes, you read that headline correctly, and no, it’s not April Fools’ Day. The Department of Treasury is seeking to recoup taxpayer dollars it dispensed in the form of a loan guarantee to Thompson River, a now-bankrupt green energy company. Perhaps as infrequent as Haley’s comet, it’s worth marking the day that Washington seeks to mitigate the harms it has inflicted on taxpayers. No different from the other green energy companies who went into bankruptcy despite receiving government loan guarantees and/or cash grants, Thompson River attempted to provide a product that lacked commercial viability. And so despite the $5 million (to be exact: $5,172,064.80) in taxpayer money, Thompson River was unable to compete in the market. However, thanks to Treasury’s recent announcement that it will seek to recover the $5 million in lost taxpayer money, we can be encouraged that the government will begin to seek funds from other green energy companies that have failed. Hopefully the trend of the government attempting to get our hard earned money back from companies that should never have received it in the first place will replace and put to bed the trend of the government using your money to back industry losers.» Read More
July 13, 2012
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Earlier this week, Congressmen Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.) introduced a bill, the “No More Solyndras Act,” which is intended to ensure that taxpayers’ money will never again be jeopardized because of poor decision making on part of the government. Specifically their bill, according to POLITICO’s Morning Energy, “would bar any subordination of taxpayer interests, require DOE to consult with Treasury on applications submitted before this year and block DOE from finalizing new deals under the 1703 program for applications submitted this year. The introduction of such a piece of legislation is long overdue and should be welcomed and encouraged since members of Congress have proposed a way to protect taxpayers in this way. While this is a very significant step forward, Congress still has quite a challenge in front of them.
June 27, 2012
After billions of dollars spent on a myriad of subsidies and year after year of failed policies, the government has now found a new way to force an uncompetitive industry into the marketplace. This time it is forcing the Navy to increase the consumption of biofuels. Like the government’s previous attempts, this one is bound to fail. Washington has no right to demand the type of fuel the Navy chooses for its fleet. Coercing the Navy and other branches of the armed services to use a product to prop up an industry for the sake of furthering a political agenda is not only imprudent, it’s downright bad public policy. Given that other attempts to create a market for biofuels have and will continue to fail, the government has discovered that there’s no better way to guarantee a market, albeit an artificial one, than to implement a policy forcing the purchase of a product. Not only is it an unwise use of taxpayer dollars, the attempt to force an industry into commercialization before the market has a demand for it is a futile effort. There’s no hindrance that precludes the private sector from moving forward with building out the biofuels industry if it were in fact economically viable. The government understands that on its own the market has not taken to biofuels, and this is how it justifies the contrived need to get the industry off the ground by having the Navy increase its consumption.» Read More