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Rep. Mike Pompeo: Wind tax credit harms economy

Siemens’ decision to lay off a number of employees at its wind-turbine nacelle plant in Hutchinson is a terrible blow to the workers and their families. Losing a job is scary and can have an enormous impact on families and on communities.

That’s why I am fighting for smart public policies to ensure that good jobs are available for all who want to work. Current policies have resulted in more than 23 million people unemployed or underemployed in the United States.

If we want a robust economy, we cannot afford the wind production tax credit – or any other form of federal energy subsidy. The wind PTC is an enormous government handout, and it is wrong to borrow money from future generations to give away corporate favors to those who promise jobs but – as we can see now in Kansas – who cannot deliver on that promise without continued reliance on other taxpayers.

Most important, the wind PTC does not work. Proof of this is that the wind PTC has been in effect for two decades and, still, wind-generated electricity is multiples more expensive than other sources of electrical power. After all this federal assistance, the profit model for these companies is to take government handouts, not to produce affordable energy.

What is the right policy response to put America back to work? It is to get government out of the business of picking winners and losers, and permit innovators and entrepreneurs to take risk and create energy that Kansans can afford.

Renewing the wind PTC might feel better in the short term, but it would ultimately destroy more jobs than it would save. Why? Because rigging the market to prop up wind increases the cost of electricity for other manufacturers and to consumers. Funding the wind PTC would not only increase your taxes or deficits (to the tune of $12 billion), but your rates would also go up to pay for more expensive electricity. Since energy is a main manufacturing cost, companies paying higher electric bills would have less money left over to hire employees and grow their businesses.

Cheap natural gas – some supplied by oil field workers in south-central Kansas – has manufacturers returning to America and growing facilities here instead of building overseas. If we want good, new manufacturing jobs to come to Kansas, we need to make sure that energy prices are not artificially and unnecessarily high here compared with other states or countries. We can have a manufacturing renaissance if we don’t blow it.

I do not oppose the wind PTC out of favoritism for oil and natural-gas producers. Indeed, I have introduced legislation, the Energy Freedom and Economic Prosperity Act, to do away with all energy-specific federal tax credits.

There should be no thumb placed on the scale by the federal government. I want to eliminate every energy subsidy and scale back government intrusion in all industries, because that’s good for our economy. I will not waver in my support for policies that will create the economic conditions necessary to bring good jobs to Kansas.

Mike Pompeo is a Republican member of Congress from Wichita.