Sen. David Vitter (R-LA) wants to end tax credits for solar panels and further cut away government regulations on oil production.
The Louisiana Republican has taken nearly $1 million in financial support from the oil and gas industry, including Koch Industries and Cheniere Energy, during his political career, reported Think Progress.
Solar power represents a growing threat to oil producers, and both the Edison Institute and the Koch-funded Americans For Prosperity have run television ads in various states warning of drastic rate increases for utilities over renewable energy fears.
They even convinced Oklahoma lawmakers to allow utility companies to slap customers with extra fees if they install solar panels or wind panels on their homes.
Vitter identified tax credits encouraging homeowners to install solar panels as an obvious target for budget-cutting.
“We have some tax credits that are really giveaways and spending items by another name — for instance, the solar tax credit,” Vitter said last week on a Louisiana sports talk radio program. “That’s a check from the taxpayers for folks to buy solar panels. It’s really a spending program and it’s a big check. I don’t think the state taxpayer should be in the business of buying folks solar panels, mostly folks who are perfectly well off.”
Think Progress pointed out that $1 goes toward the solar industry in Louisiana for every $14 in taxpayer subsidies that goes to oil and gas companies.
Vitter, who was endorsed in his GOP gubernatorial race by the Louisiana Oil and Gas Political Action Committee, has not called for cuts in oil and gas subsidies.
If anything, he wants those industries to be freed from most federal regulations protecting environmental and worker safety.
“We need to get the federal government out of the way,” Vitter said at an industry event earlier this year. “We still have too many attacks against good job producers.”
State lawmakers have handed out about $147 million in solar tax credits since 2009, and state lawmakers have already passed legislation to end those tax credits over the next two years.
The oil and gas industry, on the other hand, has raked in more than $2.4 billion from Louisiana taxpayers since 2008.