Sabotaging Clean Energy

Every day, we learn something new and horrible about the GOP tax bill.

According to the Environmental Defense Fund, the bill is likely to derail the nation’s encouraging move to clean energy.

Both the measure passed by the House and the more recent Senate version deal what the organization calls “devastating blows” to America’s booming clean energy industry—while (I know this will absolutely shock you) retaining the billions of dollars of oil, gas and coal subsidies in the current code.

According to the “alert” sent out,

The Senate version that passed in a frenzied vote early Saturday morning includes a “poison pill” that essentially ends the tax benefits gained by investors in clean energy—killing what has been a primary driver of the industry’s growth for decades. And the House version takes aim at incentives that have catalyzed wind energy investments, meaning wind developers in the middle of projects and counting on those credits will have the rug pulled out from under them. They will have to pay the costs themselves or abandon their projects.

As Environment Florida reported,

The bill also continues massive incentives for fossil fuel production amounting to tens of billions of dollars over the next decade. Most insidiously, an obscure provision recently added to the Senate Tax bill would stifle development of solar and wind energy by hurting the financial viability of new projects. With no public debate or time for Americans to respond, the Senate is threatening one of the keys to a livable future for our children and grandchildren.

The House tax bill isn’t any better. It also continues subsidies for fossil fuels, eliminates incentives for electric vehicles and slashes wind energy credits by at least one-third.

Lest we attribute these analyses to over-reaction by environmental organization, an in-depth analysis from the New York Times confirms that the tax bill contains an all-out assault on renewable energy.

I suppose we shouldn’t be surprised by this; the Trump Administration is a collection of climate change deniers. Scott Pruitt and Ryan Zinke have longtime ties to fossil fuel interests, and neither has bothered to hide his contempt for environmentalists. Or, for that matter, science and scientists.

Mother Jones highlights yet another environmental assault, in “The Environmental Disaster Tucked Into the Tax Bill.” That measure would allow drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

“The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is one of the crowned jewels of our public lands,” Ana Unruh Cohen, the director of government affairs at the Natural Resources Defense Council tells Mother Jones. “Drilling there would totally mar this beautiful place.”

Opening up the 1.5 million acres for drilling is estimated to generate $1.1 billion over the course of a decade, according to the Congressional Budget Office, and would provide a big fiscal windfall for the state of Alaska. Environmentalists, however, are appalled: they point out that the site is a critical habitat for hundreds of animal species, including foxes, polar bears, and caribou, and those habitats need protection.

Drilling would also threaten sacred lands for the Native Alaskan Gwich’in tribe.

Just for good measure, environmental groups charge that other provisions in the bill will wipe out polar bears. I don’t know what Republicans have against polar bears.

For a bill that is supposed to be all about tax reform, we keep finding all sorts of unrelated assaults–on the environment, on women’s reproductive rights, on Church-State separation…this bill is a Christmas gift to the rich and the crazy, two constituencies with a considerable amount of overlap, and the rest of us will be paying for it.

So will our grandchildren.


  1. The Republican Party is making economic war on the rest of us. Believing the propaganda pouring from the right wing media, the Party’s ignorant followers march in step with every attack. That propaganda these days is all about how their tax plan will boost the economy, ignoring the fact that the budding alternative energy industry will be crushed by the bill.

    How can we counter this assault? It isn’t like this is just a political turf fight. It is a kind of war, and tactics besides voting need to be employed… economic tactics.

  2. The more we find out about this tax bill, the more we see the over-arching influence of carbon-based energy interests. Intentionally slowing or killing the development of solar and wind energy is mindless and provides no benefit to the consumers of energy, the environment and portends an increasingly unstable future – both with respect to energy resources and rates for energy consumers. I keep writng my representatives. I keep getting their republican talking points as answers. Their own political aspirations, controlled by their donors and other political whores, is all that matters to our elected representatives. They have to be publicly shamed (if that is even possible) and defeated at the ballot boxes.

  3. I doubt anyone reading this blog will be surprised by this “under the cover of darkness” action; nor will thinking people who are aware to the realities of the importance of clean air. We, at home, can continue to do our part to cut back on unnecessary vehicle trips, setting heat too high or air conditioning too low to cut back on unnecessary power emissions, continue recycling, there are many ways we can help IF we will.

    About those “investors in clean energy”; “They will have to pay the costs themselves or abandon their projects.” Paying the cost themselves, as we at home have been doing and must continue to do, will definitely be up to them…will they be willing to scale back their profit level by opting to “do the right thing for the environment” or…will they cave and give up their good work for the almighty dollar. It always gets to FOLLOW THE MONEY.

    Does anyone in Indianapolis know who owns all of those solar panels on North Shortridge Road, next to the old Eastgate Mall, and who benefits by their energy? By the way; the entire Mall area is still trashy and unkempt, looking vacant, even though some of the Prosecutor’s Offices and IMPD sub-stations and a few small businesses are housed there. One business is – or was – a massage parlor.

  4. Theresa, my fellow early riser, I would only add one word to this comment; “…the Party’s ignorant followers march in step with every attack….” They march in “GOOSE step” with every attack.

  5. This evil tax bill that is being shoved through congress is an all out assault on everything in our country that is good for the environment. The people who voted republicans into office are responsible for what is happening. I hold them completely responsible for refusing to make an effort to learn what the people running for office really intended to do. Shame on those people for their laziness and ignorance.

  6. Theresa,

    “It is a kind of war, and tactics besides voting need to be employed… economic tactics.”

    We’re engaged in a GREAT CIVIL WAR. [ I’m starting to sound like President Lincoln at Gettysburg].

    It’s a MULTI-FRONT WAR. Concentrating on just one area like economics will be fruitless.

    Like all wars, you have to ultimately counter the COMMAND, CONTROL, and COMMUNICATIONS. It’s as simple as that.

    If you don’t, you LOSE.

  7. JoAnn and all, here is an idea.

    Should this tax reform bill with its provision to dismantle the alternative energy industry become the law of the land, a show of public protest is in order. Tis the season, folks. TURN OFF ALL HOLIDAY LIGHTS. If you are not willing to make such a small sacrifice in the face of the economic war being waged upon you, you really don’t care.

  8. “Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

    Now we are engaged in a GREAT CIVIL WAR, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure…………….”

    ~President Abraham Lincoln at Gettyburg

    The FIRST WAVE of this war was VIRAL. It consisted of a massive release of a new strain, of what could be called, the HITLER VIRUS OF HATRED from camouflaged, Trojan Horse like, platforms.

    We’re now entering into the SECOND WAVE. It won’t be viral. It will be as clear as can be. We’re now seeing it on almost a daily basis.

    The THIRD WAVE will hit us like a TSUNAMI. That’s the END GAME. The TRANSFORMATION will be complete.

  9. In my neighborhood, our Congressman was worried about opening the Artic Wildlife Refuge to oil exploration, but he was able to relax and vote for the bill when his buddies assured him they wouldn’t open the Florida Gulf Coast to the same. I think back to his campaign, which included an advertisement comparing him to Mother Theresa. Just like hibiscus, cynicism is in full bloom here year round.

  10. Clean, or green, energy will not be denied. Slowed perhaps, but not stopped. Its benefits are too many. The market for it will overcome the selfish and misguided actions of Congress.

  11. This is from an interview with Daniel Ellsberg, the Pentagon Papers whistleblower, in the December 8th edition of the Financial Times:

    “Ellsberg has also made a point of befriending corporate whistleblowers. In each case, he quizzes them about their motives. “We all agree on three things,” he says. “First, what we know about what is happening is wrong. Second, people should know about it. Third, I will tell them.”

    The only part neither Ellsberg nor his fellow whistleblowers can explain is the third. Why them? Why don’t more people come forward? Ellsberg says Snowden has the best answer. “People have careers, jobs, security — they don’t want to risk that,” he says. He then tells me that he once read that whistleblowers divorce on average within 18 months of speaking out. Their spouses did not sign up for the change of location, the pressure or the condemnation from their peers. “Perhaps that is the most important thing,” says Ellsberg. “It’s something about humanity — the fear of ostracism. People will go along with almost anything, including risking the end of the world, to avoid being ostracised.”

  12. The Republican Tax Reform efforts is a massive all out offensive to deliver to their various puppet masters one huge gift. The 1% and the Multi National Corporations and various single issue members of the Republican Voters will be the beneficiaries (Bible Thumpers, NRA, build the wall types, etc). The Bible Thumpers must be all excited about the Trumpet’s plan to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem – One Step Closer to Rapture.

  13. We all understand human behavior without the histrionics. This blog has discussed, ad nauseam, the fallacies of Republican economics, foreign relations, public education, the environment, political “strategies” and a host of other foibles. These things are directed at one thing only: wealth.

    The Republican Party has lost all connection it has had – meager though it may have been – with the welfare of the people of the nation. They have lied about creating jobs. They have lied about protecting the environment. They have lied about everything except how they’re going to make their rich donors richer at the expense of everyone else.

    With the Libertarian Koch brothers and the Ayn Rand loving Paul Ryan directing this wealth management for the rich, the lurch to the right by the Republican Party is emulating the very definition of fascism. Until these terrible and horrible people are removed from office, it will only get worse and we will plummet into a “1984” scenario where free elections are banned. Then what do we do?

  14. Monotonous,

    UR 100% right. It is a massive “all out offensive.” It’s a DOMESTIC BLITZKREIG with no effective opposition.

    blitz (blits) n. [< Ger blitz, lightning] a sudden destructive or overwhelming attack—vt. to subject to a blitz.

  15. Vernon,

    “Until these terrible and horrible people are removed from office, it will only get worse and we will plummet into a “1984” scenario where free elections are banned. Then what do we do?”

    Tell us what we need to do NOW.

  16. Economics (“the dismal science”) if a science is totally artificial. Unlike hard sciences where there is the observable and measureable (gravity etc.), the dismal science is made up; it has no independent identity. It is nonetheless my area of interest these days though I only hold an undergraduate degree in the discipline. Discipline? It is a human invention; it is malleable; there is no discipline in political terms; anyone can claim any policy outcome he or she wishes in a capitalist economy with reference to some economic theory (of which there are legion). Thus communism can be justified; libertarian nihilism can be justified; capitalism run amok can be justified. How? Easy. Just make up your own economic justification (if one is not otherwise handy) for positions to be held in a cart before the horse exercise in conclusions first and facts to justify such facts later if at all. End of the theoretical. . .

    Enter Republican politicians on the political stage from the (far) right entrance > Under the current so-called tax bill Republicans have clearly sold their souls to the fossil fuel industry. They not only have retained and expanded the goodies for the industry but have dealt a perhaps mortal blow to the industry’s competitors, a sort of breach by legislative fiat of the Sherman AntiTrust Act (and here I thought government was designed to enforce the law against antitrust monopolies in the public interest rather than provide for them – silly me!). Republicans chose a theory (see first paragraph) which includes the horrors of giving tax breaks and other subsidies to the wind and solar industry while heaping billions in tax and other subsidies on the fossil fuel industries (see Arctic drilling and Exxon’s half trillion dollar deal Arctic drilling deal negotiated by Tillerson with Putin where, presumably, Exxon’s profits can be kept untaxed overseas until – if ever – such profits are repatriated). Strangely, the horrors of government subsidy and legislative provision for monopoly do not seem to apply to the fossil fuel industry.

    Wonder why? Check out the industry’s massive support of Republican candidates in an obvious quid pro quo situation where “you scratch my back, and I’ll scratch yours.” The losers? You and me and our progeny, the air, water and soil, and even the bribers and those bribed. Evidence? Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Accord, changes in rules and regs on coal and other fossil fuel burning etc. etc. etc. What to do? Show up at the polls in the fall of next year.

  17. Gerald,

    “What to do? Show up at the polls in the fall of next year.”

    But we better do more than that. By the time that comes around, there won’t be anything to vote for.

  18. Marv – Short of civil commotion and revolution (which I am trying to avoid) I think that we can only continue to strongly resist Trumpism and corporate takeover of our country boldly and loudly. I suppose one could say that I am willing to show up at the Bastille but not quite ready to storm it in the hope that some measure of reform can be had within the decadent politics of the day by calling out our overseers in the castle (defined as Wall Street and boardrooms of America) until we can get to the polls. Yes, your observation is well taken, i.e., that there may be no polls to attend, but I think we can survive till then if we are loud and persevering in our resistance to these wannabe authoritarians. Assessing such a risk is a risk itself, of course, and I could be wrong, but I think not. Time (and unrelenting resistance) will tell.

  19. Drilling in ANWR was a gift to get Murkowski’s vote in the Senate.

    In another deal, Keystone 1 pipeline that supposedly ships tarsands garp from Canada to Texas and tarsands is not taxed 9 cents per barrel for liability cleanup fund because congress swears it is not crude oil. K1 leaked again in the past month and Trans-Can the owner says the mess that spilled was crude oil, not tarsands which is next to impossible to clean up. Was Trans-Can shipping crude as tarsands to avoid paying the cleanup tax? No one seems to know and I highly doubt anyone in this administration would be too eager to find out.

  20. I guess we can sum it up this way: anything the Republicans ever thought they lost on or were even slighted by is to be reconciled in this one bill. (They’ll get to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security get their own swipe next.) Yeesh.

  21. Bravo to both Vernon and Marv and the rest of you, of course!!

    Vernon and Marv are both spot on and Marv asked the key question – what do we need to do now!! None of this can wait and their C3 (Command, control and communications) need to be countered now! We need counter TV ads, radio spots, and counter talk radio itself. We need to be much more vocal in terms of our condemnation of what these clowns are doing – all of them, from the Koch’s, Trump and Lyin’ Ryan on down.

    We need to have an answer to every bit of information these people put out with concrete, totally verifiable, information to take the fight right back to them. We need to model what Tom Steyer is doing with his money but do it in a more diffused way since I’m not a billionaire nor is it likely that anyone that frequents this blog is either.

    We need to look at how Dr. King and other leaders of the 1960’s civil rights movement organized themselves to conduct non-violent (and I stress that) demonstrations at every turn. This is, as Marv stated, quoting “Honest Abe”, a great “civil war” for the very heart and soul of this country. If we don’t step up and do this everywhere in this country to challenge this steamroller they have devised to basically steal this country from its people it will roll right over us. The decision whether or not to save this country from the abyss that these reprobates are thrusting it and all of us into rests ultimately with us.

  22. Gerald,

    “Short of civil commotion and revolution (which I am trying to avoid) I think that we can only continue to strongly resist Trumpism and corporate takeover of our country boldly and loudly.”

    We’ve been to this impasse more than once. We both are attorneys, but I gave up practicing law because of its limitations. Speaking out was limited. Could you afford to be OSTRACIZED by the judge in your county? I don’t think so. You’re not free to speak out when your job, family, and financial well-being are at stake. The same goes if you want to write a book and get it published. You and Vernon are both kidding yourselves.

    There’s help for this mess we’re in, but it’s deep, much deeper than where attorneys and publishing writers are GOING TO TREAD. This is not meant to be personal, it is just a statement of reality.

  23. It’s always interesting how great oratory like the “Gettysburg Address” never lose their meaning.

    Another example is the “Declaration of Independence”:

    “When in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”

    “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of these Colonies; and such is now the necessity which constrains them to alter their former Systems of Government. The history of the present King of Great Britain is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations, all having in direct object the establishment of an absolute Tyranny over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.”

    Yes. Let’s submit facts to a candid world – as the reasoned and good people of Sheila’s army do every day.

  24. Tom,

    “We need to look at how Dr. King and other leaders of the 1960’s civil rights movement organized themselves to conduct non-violent (and I stress that) demonstrations at every turn.”

    Nothing like hitting the nail on the head. That’s where the answers are. I’ve mentioned this before. We hosted MLK’s two top attorneys, when the Movement came to St. Augustine in 1964.

    This time the movement is going have to go deeper and deal with the systemic problems. That was impossible back then. The answer again will have to be non-violent. Just yesterday, I was thinking about contacting an old friend who is the Director for the Institute of Non-Violence in Dallas. I’ll do that tomorrow.

  25. Pete,

    “Yes. Let’s submit facts to a candid world – as the reasoned and good people of SHEILA’S ARMY do every day.”

    Ditto. Right on target.

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