ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- Among fiscal Republicans, including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, energy subsidies are quickly becoming taboo. Palin recently went as far as to say that she's against all energy subsidies. (She's not, however, for ending the Big Oil tax breaks in the news recently). She's even against ethanol subsidies, an Iowa-sized third rail of such government giveaways. She's not alone among potential and actual GOP 2012 presidential candidates. Both Tim Pawlenty and Rick Santorum have refused to take the ethanol pledge.
It's a barometer of how much times have changed. This would have been unheard of during the last presidential election, when Sen. John McCain, a one-time anti-ethanol crusader, suddenly became an ethanol evangelist when it became clear he was going to make a White House run. But when he decided to not to campaign in Iowa for the caucus, he flopped again.
Republican U.S. Rep. Don Young, the contrarian congressman for the whole state, is again zipping where others are zagging. This time, he's co-sponsored an energy bill that's all about subsidies. Called the NAT GAS Act, the legislation, pushed heavily by natural gas booster T. Boone Pickens, would "encourage and reward manufacturers who produce natural gas powered vehicles." Such encouragement would include tax breaks, and grants that would be available until 2016.
Young signed onto the bill because "it increases demand for and expands the market for natural gas, which can only be beneficial to Alaska," his spokesperson Meredith Kenney said in an email statement. Further, Young believes that natural gas, unlike other alternative energy sources like wind and solar, could eventually survive without subsidies.