This year’s report by Green Scissors, a coalition of progressive and conservative organizations, is a disappointment.
The report recommends phasing out the National Flood Insurance Program and does not propose an alternative.†† They would do this gradually, their reason being that, in their view, the program is badly run, owes the Treasury 18 billion dollars and encourages construction on environmentally fragile coastlines.
Surprisingly, the report does not favor bringing back the Hybrid Tax Credit, which expired in January.† Here’s why:
The structure of the hybrid tax credit over the past few years has incentivized the sale of inefficient hybrids at the expense of the most fuel efficient models. The hybrid car tax credit applied to only the first 60,000 cars sold by any automaker. The first companies to come to market with practical, fuel efficient, desirable hybrids ó Toyota, Honda and Ford ó all exhausted the credit well before it officially expired, leaving their cars no longer eligible for the credit. (Many cut their prices in response.) This left companies that were slow to develop this technology ó like GM, Nissan and Chrysler ó or that sold less attractive products, with a relative advantage because their products were still eligible for the tax credits. These late developers also happen to be producing less fuel efficient vehicles than their counterparts, creating a situation where taxpayers subsidize and incentivize the purchase of less efficient hybrid vehicles.
What is different about the Green Scissors project this year, which started in 1994, is that one of its supporters is the Heartland Institute.† Think Progress calls the Heartland Institute a “fiercely anti-climate action organization that has been on the front lines of pushing misinformation and pseudo-science in order to create an artificial ‘debate’ over climate change.”
Heartland’s President, Joseph Bast, told Climate Progress recently that “we are a fossil fuel dependent economy and I donít think thatís a bad thing…. The ecological impact of that reliance is not negative.”
One of the things Green Scissors touts as its raison d’etre is that it “strives to make environmental and fiscal responsibility a priority in Washington.” If that’s the case, and in the past it has been, then why did Green Scissors add a right-wing, anti-environment group as one of its supporters?† Of course there are groups on the other side viewed with scorn by the right, too.† Green Scissors responds that only by working in a bipartisan coalition can they maintain the credibility they have had over the years.
To be fair, the report does recommend eliminating subsidies that really do need to go:
- $61 billion worth of fossil fuel subsidies
- Nuclear energy subsidies
- Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit, which is set to expire at the end of this year. Eliminating it would save $15 million a day.
- Renewable Fuels Standard because it “mandates the use of an increasing amount of biofuels each year, regardless of actual demand or economic and environmental impact.” The Volumetric Ethanol Excise Tax Credit and Renewable Fuels Standard combined will cost $56 billion from 2011-2015.
- So-called clean coal technologies
- Agriculture subsidies, including commodity crops, which would save $20 billion, plus the Market Access Program, and crop insurance
- Subsidies to mine and log timber on federal land
Even with all the good recommendations, it is still disconcerting that Green Scissors partners with an organization which held a climate change deniers conference last month.
Photo: Flickr user, ciron810