Taxes and 'fairness'

Defenders of federal subsidies for inefficient alternative energy such as wind and solar power say the subsidies are justified because of tax breaks that oil companies get. Wind and solar need special treatment, they say, to make things "fair."

But when the state of Wyoming tried to be "fair" to all of its energy companies, supporters of wind energy were upset.

Wyoming Gov. Dave Freudenthal proposed a 5 percent tax on wind energy production. While no tax is desirable, that one is at least reasonable because the state taxes coal and natural gas production. (Remember "fairness"?)

But the plan to levy the tax on wind power caused an uproar. Wind energy activists condemned it, pointing to the generous tax treatment other states offer to wind companies.

Gov. Freudenthal was not impressed by those arguments. He rejected the suggestion that wind energy has no downside.

"I appreciate the fact that people can say it has great environmental benefits, but that's people who don't live next to them, or whose wildlife habitat isn't being disrupted, or the bird population isn't being affected, or whose view isn't being altered," he told The Associated Press.

And as for taxes, he said wind companies "are not entitled to a free ride."

Unfortunately, many seem to think costly, inefficient alternative energy should get a "free ride" rather than be subject to the rules of the "free market."