Pompeo pushes to end energy subsidies

WASHINGTON — Rep. Mike Pompeo, R-Wichita, wants Congress to just say "no" to all energy subsidies.

Wind, solar, ethanol, natural gas and yes, oil, too.

If that sounds odd for a lawmaker who used to sell equipment to the oil and natural gas industries, and whose largest political benefactor — Koch Industries — is a huge international energy conglomerate, Pompeo agrees.

But he said the government should not be "picking winners and losers" in the energy field by targeting subsidies.

Pompeo said at a news conference Friday that through subsidies, Congress was "trying to identify what the next great energy technology will be. I think it's both a fool's errand and bad policy when we do."

The government spent more than $18 billion on energy industry subsidies in 2009, according to a letter Pompeo sent to House colleagues this week asking for their support.

Pompeo, freshman Republican Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho and another Republican backer, Rep. Tom McClintock of California, asked for a House resolution backing the elimination of all "grants, direct loans, loan guarantees and tax credits aimed at specific sectors of the energy industry," the letter stated.

The measure would undercut government efforts to promote renewable energy and technologies, such as wind. Kansas ranks third in the nation for wind energy potential, according to the Kansas wind energy industry.

"I'm all about jobs, I'm all about growth," Pompeo said."... But we don't need to do it with federal taxpayers' subsidies."

Tyson Slocum, director of the energy program at Public Citizen, a nonprofit consumer advocacy group, said that while he appreciated the idea behind trying to eliminate energy subsidies, it was short-sighted.

"The question shouldn't be, 'Let's get rid of all energy subsidies,' " he said. "The question should be, 'Let's get rid of subsidies for mature technologies that have proved that they are profitable.' "