P.I.R.G: Energy bill tax breaks for big business could cost us

P.I.R.G: Energy bill tax breaks for big business could cost us

By Joe Baker

By Joe Baker

Senior Editor

A bill reposing in committee in the U.S. Senate, if passed, could mean a huge expense for U.S. taxpayers. Illinois Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) said the bill would cost taxpayers $38 billion in tax breaks and other giveaways to big oil, electric utilities and the nuclear power industry.

The bill is House Bill 4, which outlines an energy plan that, PIRG says, would provide big windfalls to energy providers.

“These giveaways to polluting industries would not only waste taxpayer dollars but also would do virtually nothing to provide for America’s energy future,” said Dave Weiner, PIRG’s campaign director in Illinois.

“The House energy plan simply is out of balance with America’s current priorities. The vast majority of the bill supports dirty energy sources, while devoting barely a quarter of its subsidies and tax breaks to energy efficiency and renewable energy,” Weiner said.

In its report, “Polluter Payday,” PIRG found these handouts will have profound implications for taxpayers in Illinois. It estimated the tax breaks and subsidies contained in this legislation would cost Illinois taxpayers $1.7 billion over the next 10 years; just slightly less than the $1.8 billion in tax refunds mailed out this year.

By contrast, PIRG said, more than 100 polluting industries could benefit from the plan. These corporations, it said, reported revenues of more than $1.6 trillion last year.

Weiner said there have been attempts to amend the bill to allow for oil drilling in the Arctic Wildlife Refuge in Alaska on grounds it involves national security. These amendments were to be attached to anti-terrorism legislation, but were beaten down, he said.

“Those pushing for a plan to address energy and national security are partially correct,” said Diane Brown, executive director of PIRG. “America does need a long-term national energy policy, but the House energy legislation, which will only deepen our dependence on oil and other polluting sources, is not the answer.”

Weiner said there is increasing investigation of wind, solar and other alternative energy sources for renewable energy and non-polluting energy generation.

He said a broad coalition of environmental organizations is working to block any drilling in the Alaskan refuge and to protect national forests.

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