March 16, 2015

Fiorina: Phase out federal energy incentives

Kathie Obradovich | The Des Moines Register | March 14, 2015 |

Carly Fiorina missed last weekend’s Ag Summit but mark her down as a “no” on continuing federal renewable energy incentives such as the wind energy tax credit and the renewable fuel standard beyond the short term.

“The right answer ultimately is that the government shouldn’t be in the business of subsidizing anything,” Fiorina said. “Subsidies and a variety of tax credits distort the markets.”

Fiorina, the former CEO of Hewlett-Packard, is taking steps toward a presidential run and said she expects to announce her plans in late April or early May. She spoke with reporters Saturday before speaking at a GOP women’s conference in West Des Moines.

Fiorina said she had a schedule conflict with last weekend’s Iowa Ag Summit, where potential GOP presidential candidates answered questions about renewable energy and other key farm issues. Iowa elected officials have pushed for maintaining the renewable energy standard as a vital path to the market for ethanol.

She said she thinks 2020 – five years from now – would be a reasonable time to phase out subsidies. At the Ag Summit last weekend, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush received praise from renewable energy representatives for saying the industry should be able to count on the RFS through 2022.

Fiorina said she “understands completely” why Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is pushing for credits and subsidies that are important in making sure Iowa businesses are not at a competitive disadvantage.

Ultimately, she said, the answer is to phase out all subsidies. “But we need to do it at the same time. We need to phase out sugar, oil and renewable fuels but do it at the same time so that we’re not disadvantaging any one state or industry,” she said.

She said the point that the renewable fuel standard is not a subsidy but a guarantee of market access for ethanol was “quibbling with the details.”

“But it’s an example of government using its power to move markets in particular ways,” she said.

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