Coal Tattoo

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West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin got some publicity yesterday when he delivered his “maiden speech” on the Senate floor. But Sen. Manchin also was grilling experts during a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

But does Sen. Manchin need to do a little more homework before he starts inserting himself into the national energy debate to defend the coal industry?

Here’s part of what Sen. Manchin asked these energy experts during yesterday’s hearing:

What I don’t understand is all of these energies you’re talking about … the only energy source which is the greatest source that we have so far that we’re so dependent on right now is coal …

It doesn’t get  a penny of subsidies.

But it’s been vilified by this administration and so many people, and it’s the one we depend on the most. It gives back more than it takes. I can’t figure it out.

Not a penny of subsidies?

Not so, according to the group Taxpayers for Common Sense, which put out a news release criticizing Manchin’s comments:

If only that were true – we’d have less work to do. Not to be outdone, Sen. Franken (D-MN) later chimed in:

“Senator Manchin asked why there weren’t subsidies for coal and uh, I’m guessing that I want to answer that. And I don’t know if it was a rhetorical question, but it seems coal is doing pretty well without subsidies.”

That’s Weekend Update material.

The coal industry has been pocketing subsidies since 1932. Taxpayers for Common Sense has identified numerous tax breaks and subsidies over the years to the coal industry. Our Green Scissors report released last July identified over $19 billion in potential taxpayer savings if the following coal subsidies were eliminated:

— Loan Guarantees for Coal Power Generation with CCS and Industrial Gasification with CCS and Advanced Coal Gasification — $8,000,000,000

— Clean Air Coal Program — $2,500,000,000

— Clean Coal Power Initiative — $1,800,000,000

—  FutureGen — $1,073,000,000

— Credit for Investment in Clean Coal Facilities — $1,000,000,000

— Carbon Sequestration Tax Credit – $927,000,000

— Domestic Manufacturing Deduction for Hard Minerals — $856,000,000

— World Bank Capital Increase — $854,000,000

— Expansion of Amortization for Certain Pollution Control Facilities — $835,000,000

— Air Quality Enhancement Program — $500,000,000

— Percentage Depletion Allowance — $409,000,000

— Capital Gains Treatment for Royalties from Coal — $237,000,000

— Expensing of Exploration and Development — $202,000,000

— Certain Income and Gains Relating to Industrial Source Carbon Dioxide Treated as Qualifying Income for Publicly Traded Partnerships — $11,000,000

— Electron Scrubbing Demonstration Project — $5,000,000

— Build America Bonds (BAB) — $9,891,000,000

— Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) — $400,000,000

— TOTAL (excluding ARPA-E or BAB) — $19,209,000,000

Taxpayers for Common Sense President Ryan Alexander said:

We stand ready to work with Sens. Manchin and Franken to make their subsidy free coal a reality. But before we can have an honest discussion about our energy policy and cutting spending, we all need to be using the same facts. Taxpayers spend billions supporting the coal industry every year through holes in the tax code and through loan guarantees for new coal plants. We need to stop giving tax breaks to the well-entrenched coal industry and protect taxpayer dollars.