Full Title: Energy Subsidy Myths and Realities: Playing favorites or ‘all of the above’?
Author(s): Roger H. Bezdek and Robert M. Wendling
Publisher(s): National Renewable Energy Laboratory
Publication Date: 6/2012
Length: 6 pages, PDF
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The issue of federal incentives for energy industries is highly contentious and has serious implications —for U.S. energy policy, environmental policy, and for budgets and deficit reduction. Thus far, unfortunately, the debate has suffered from a lack of rigorous empirical data. And that lack extends to the amounts, distributions, and forms of federal incentives. It only encourages an excess of rhetoric, claims, and counterclaims.
For example, renewable energy advocates and environmentalists contend that the federal government provides large subsidies and incentives to the fossil and nuclear industries, while offering relatively little to renewable energy. The oil and gas industries contend that their subsidies are modest and are essential for increasing production. And so forth.
To provide a clearer understanding of government spending patterns, recent research gathered comprehensive detailed information on federal energy incentives over the past six decades. This research shows how the federal government has historically encouraged, promoted, and supported the development of U.S. energy resources—in many diverse ways, including direct subsidies, regulation, tax incentives. The many forms of incentives make it difficult to quantify the relative costs and benefits of different policy priorities and approaches, but empirical data sheds some light on the issue, which might help future energy policy leaders make the best possible use of taxpayer dollars.