Controversial Energy Subsidy Report Made Public By Watchdog Group

08/01/2011 02:21 pm ET | Updated Oct 01, 2011

The Checks and Balances Project has obtained a copy of the controversial Energy Information Administration report that was called “garbage” by EIA Acting Administrator Howard Gruenspecht.  The polluter-friendly report was just delivered yesterday afternoon to the GOP House requesters, Reps. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT), Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Congressman Roscoe Bartlett (R-MD). Checks and Balances provided a copy to DeSmogBlog, which we’re providing to the public here: “Direct Federal Financial Interventions and Subsidies in Energy in Fiscal Year 2010" [PDF].

Gabe Elsner, Deputy Director of the Checks and Balances Project, told DeSmogBlog that, “if it’s true that the Acting Administrator Gruenspecht called this report a “piece of garbage” he was right, because it deliberately leaves out the six other ways in which coal, oil and natural gas get government handouts.  The fossil fuel welfare tab is tens or hundreds of times greater than the cost of pro-renewable policy support.” 

Elsner says that this report is essentially a re-issue of the 2007 Alexander study that was designed to defend public welfare to the fossil fuel industry, such as oil and gas industry subsidies. The new EIA analysis fails to take into account the full range of subsidies at play in the energy sector, and therefore delivers a favorable analysis of fossil fuels over renewables.

By excluding a lot of the other avenues of direct federal support given disproportionately to fossil fuel interests, as well as financial tools designed to assist dirty energy companies, the report is just plain faulty, or “fuzzy math” as some guy once said.

Missing from the EIA calculations are a plethora of advantages the dirty energy industry enjoys over clean tech companies, including outsized direct subsidies for mature industries, publicly funded pollution cleanup assistance, cheap insurance, low-interest federal loans, extensive tax breaks, and -- most gut wrenching in the wake of Tim DeChristopher’s imprisonment -- insanely cheap public land leases for oil and gas drilling, as well as access to public lands and tax credits to build transmission lines.

On Monday, the Checks and Balances Project, Greenpeace U.S. and Oil Change International plan to file this Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request [PDF] to the EIA seeking records of the meetings and communications between the EIA and the three GOP Congressmembers’ offices, as well as other materials used in compiling the report.