Heartland Institute Comments on Today’s Surface Transportation Amendment Votes

Published March 13, 2012

CHICAGO (March 13, 2012) – The U.S. Senate today considered several amendments to the Surface Transportation bill (S. 1813) that dealt with changing incentive structures for energy resources.

Most notably, the Senate failed to pass an amendment from Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) that would have extended a number of renewable energy tax incentives; an amendment from Sens. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Richard Burr (R-NC) that would have provided federal support for natural gas vehicles; and an amendment from Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) that would have eliminated several targeted energy tax incentives.

The following statements from policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact Tammy Nash at [email protected] and 312/377-4000. After regular business hours, contact Jim Lakely at [email protected] and 312/731-9364.

“If the Senate really hopes to foster an ‘all-of-the-above’ energy strategy, the best way to do so is to take the government out of the energy business and allow the free market to determine the proper energy sources for a given location and use.

“The Stabenow and Menendez-Burr amendments sought to inefficiently choose winners and losers and reward corporations at the expense of the taxpayers subsidizing such programs. The defeat of those measures was a win for sound energy policy. The rejection of the DeMint amendment was a disappointment, however, as it was the only amendment that would have corrected our current resource market to allow the best technologies to succeed and innovation to thrive.

“Our current structure of energy subsidies is based on an incoherent presumption of precarious, open-ended handouts that constantly teeter on the edge of destruction. With a more level and stable playing field, Congress could give businesses the certainty they need to make investments in future energy infrastructure independent of arbitrary political considerations. Unfortunately, the Senate did not take a step in that direction today and our policies remain at an impasse.”

John Monaghan
Legislative Specialist
Environment and Energy Policy
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

“The worst thing government can do is distort the free market by picking winners and losers in the energy industry. If government allows individual entrepreneurs and private companies to pursue unencumbered the technologies they most believe in, consumers and our nation’s economy will benefit.”

James M. Taylor
Senior Fellow, Environment Policy
The Heartland Institute
[email protected]

The Heartland Institute is a 28-year-old national nonprofit organization with offices in Chicago, Illinois and Washington, DC. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.