PSC Attacks Subsidies for Energy. Look Out, Fossil Fuels!

While any political organization in Montana is going to be hard-pressed to match the embarrassing spectacle the House of Representatives is likely to become, the Public Service Commission is the most likely candidate to make a run at the crown.

Today, with the selection of Bill Gallagher as commission chair, the PSC got off to a good start. Gallagher was nominated by former chair Travis Kavulla. You might remember that back in 2011 Kavulla alleged in a public meeting that Mr. Gallager was using his PSC office to conduct private business, but presumably they’ve worked out those issues.

At the meeting, Gallagher argued against energy that depends on government subsidies:

campaigned against the concept of using the utility bill to force Montana’s families and employers to be unwilling investors in high-cost, low-output, intermittent generation and other programs that at present can exist only through government mandates and substantial tax and ratepayer subsidies.”

Given that peculiar position, it’s hard to understand exactly why Gallagher’s focus was on wind power, given the enormous taxpayer subsidy given to the fossil fuel industry annually. Across the world, governments subsidize oil, gas, and coal to the tune of the three-quarters of a trillion dollars annually.

Here in the U.S. historical subsidies for oil and gas are thirteen times larger than renewable energy sources like wind.

To pretend that fossil fuel extraction doesn’t depend on government subsidy is to ignore historical and contemporary reality. Failing to invest in critical, clean energy technology like wind and other renewables is nothing more than ideologically-driven, short-sighted nonsense.

It’s too bad that no one on the PSC knows better.

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About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba has been writing about Montana politics since 2005 and teaching high school English since 2000. He's a former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.
His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.
In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.


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  • It’s all so ridiculous. Go to ATP’s website and see how they attack wind subsidies. Some of these right wing nut jobs have even gone so far as to say that wind gets MORE money than fossil fuels.
    No one that supports wind denies that wind needs subsidies… but wind actually NEEDS subsidies to get up and running. Why are we still subsidizing industries that don’t need subsidies anymore.

  • The real subsidy is that we’ve so far fought three wars and lost a lot of good soldiers to keep Exxon-Mobil’s supply lines open and make the Saudi royalty happy.

  • The nuclear industry is an interesting case in point. The risk is so great that no individual organization or corporation is able to take on the risk of building a nuclear power station. I guess that is understandable given the huge cost and consequences when something goes wrong. But, look at many energy policies today and you’ll find the public not only bearing the risk, but potentially paying mighty to do so.

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