Subsidies For Me But Not For Thee

Advocates of the natural gas jobs tax constantly argue large drilling companies aren’t paying their “fair share”. Now the tax-me-more folks are taking it one step further — attacking the federal “subsidies” utilized by traditional energy — particularly the tax deductions for depreciation enjoyed by Range Resources. In an email, eco-lobbyists PennFuture write:

In 2009, Range Resources, one of the largest drillers in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale, got the highest federal subsidy of any company in the nation. Over four years, it paid a rate of 0.4 percent in taxes on billions of dollars of revenue, according to BusinessWeek. The official corporate tax rate is 35 percent.

Let’s start with the factual errors, according to BusinessWeek, the 0.4% effective rate was for one year, not four (also revenue is irrelevant to taxes — the 35% rate applies to profits). In the prior three years, Range paid $400 million in corporate income taxes.

Then there is the hypocrisy of attacking traditional energy companies for taking advantage of subsidies while lobbying for alternative energy subsidies. PennFuture and other environmental groups have pushed for alternative energy subsidies in the name of reducing pollution and improving the environment, but this type of attack makes it clear that their real motivation is to ensure their alternative energy investments pan out.

Indeed, the Businessweek article in question notes that “Big Oil” is getting tax breaks for their alternative energy programs. Yet PennFuture continues to lobby for more money for alternative energy subsidies, despite the fact that these subsidies, on a per kilowatt basis, dwarf traditional power. Maybe if Range Resources had a wind power arm — like PennFuture donor BP — the tax credits would be a-ok.

Hey PennFuture — if you want to criticize taxpayer subsidies, be consistent and oppose all subsidies for big corporations.