Originally published on NonDoc.com.
Every Oklahoman has seen the ads on TV: A former governor and a former football coach serve as pitchmen for the state’s oil-funded anti-wind lobby. The ads are like a great football play.
They’re hiding the ball, tricking the viewer, running a trick play straight from the hypocrite’s playbook. It’s called the “Double-Tax Half-Back,” a deception ploy designed to double-tax wind but keep the companies behind the ads getting half back in tax breaks.
These ads are part of an orchestrated assault on wind energy, and Big Money is on the attack. But why?
Their work is designed to divert legislative attention from the tax breaks they receive. “Keep them talking about wind, and they won’t be talking about us,” seems to be their mantra. Claiming they want parity with oil and gas, their ads call for a production tax on wind but omit a key fact: Oil and gas companies pay a gross production tax IN LIEU OF the ad valorem taxes that wind energy pays and those ad valorem taxes go directly to local governments and into public schools, funding classrooms and paying teachers.
These anti-wind voices want wind energy to be double taxed in what they claim would level the playing field. At the same time, the forces behind these ads are working to keep their own generous tax breaks in place. That doesn’t sound like a level playing field to me. It’s already tilted in their favor, but they continue to move the goalposts on wind.
The funders of these ads ignore the fact that the wind industry negotiated with the Legislature to end all incentives for wind energy production this year. As they attack wind and call for higher taxes (and higher electric bills for Oklahoma consumers), they are, at the same time, fighting to protect their own tax breaks.
If this isn’t the pot calling the kettle black, what is? One energy industry attacking another non-competing industry can’t be good for the Oklahoma economy.
While they’re watching the “Double-Tax, Half-Back” unfold on their TV screens, Oklahomans should ask themselves a few questions.
Why attack an industry that has invested more than $12 billion in Oklahoma? Why attack an energy source providing millions of dollars annually in ad valorem (property tax) revenue to rural public school districts? Why attack an industry that provides more than $20 million each year to Oklahoma farmers and ranchers who lease their land for wind projects? Why attack wind when it is reducing the need for imported energy, making Oklahoma more reliant on its own clean wind power and natural gas? Why attack the wind energy that utilities say will save consumers $2 billion on their electric bills?
Instead of attacking wind, the billionaire oil barons filling the airwaves with these ads should join the wind industry in voluntarily scaling back their incentives, in turn freeing up money for public education.
Expensive ads, slick celebrity spokesmen and trick plays can’t change the fact that wind is growing and working for Oklahoma. While the anti-wind crowd continues to mislead, wind power professionals will keep working to bring new jobs, tax revenue, cheap power and economic opportunity to Oklahoma.
It’s boring, but sometimes you just have to run the ball straight up the middle.