Jeb Bush Calls for an End to Energy Subsidies

Source: By Alan Rappeport, New York Times • Posted: Friday, July 24, 2015

Jeb Bush campaigned Thursday at the Medallion Opera House in Gorham, N.H.

Jeb Bush campaigned Thursday at the Medallion Opera House in Gorham, N.H.Credit Ian Thomas Jansen-Lonnquist for The New York Times

Former Gov. Jeb Bush of Florida has called for something that his brother George W., the former president and oilman, might disagree with: a ban on energy subsidies.

At an event in New Hampshire on Wednesday, Mr. Bush was captured on videosaying that the United States should phase out tax credits that subsidize the wind, solar, oil and gas industries and allow market forces to lower the cost of energy.

“I don’t think we should pick winners and losers,” Mr. Bush said. “I think tax reform ought to be to lower the rates as far as you can and eliminate as many of these subsidies — all of the things that impede the ability for a more dynamic way to get where we need to get.”

Energy subsidies have divided Republicans who try to balance their free-market tendencies with the need to please big corporate constituents. Democrats have called for an end to tax breaks for “big oil” but have been more supportive of younger renewable energy groups.

Friends of the Earth Action, an environmental activist group, said it was heartened to hear that Mr. Bush wanted to stop subsidizing oil companies but said that this would be detrimental to renewables.

“A century of fossil fuel subsidies has resulted in dirty energy infrastructure dominating our economy,” said Ben Schreiber, the climate and energy program director at Friends of the Earth. “We cannot suddenly decide that renewables can compete fairly after decades of taxpayer support privileging polluters.”

Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin have both supported energy subsidies, and the issue is expected to come up in the coming presidential debates.

Mr. Bush’s position also represents something of a change of heart; in 2006, he signed the Florida Energy Act, which created incentives to develop renewable energy resources.