Four Republicans who had signed on as cosponsors of the so-called Natural Gas Act withdrew their backing this month, even as conservative groups such as the Club for Growth and Americans for Tax Reform stepped up campaigns against the legislation they say is full of unwise “market-distorting tax credits.”
Three of the GOP lawmakers withdrew their sponsorship last week: Rep. Tim Griffin of Arkansas, Rep. Glenn Thompson of Pennsylvania and Rep. Todd Akin of Missouri. Rep. Steve Pearce, R-N.M., asked to be removed as a bill cosponsor on May 10.
Griffin said his decision followed weeks of analysis about the bill. The measure “is well intentioned in that it seeks to promote natural gas as a clean burning, abundant and American energy source,” Griffin said in a statement. “However, I am concerned that (the bill) might be inconsistent with my goal of simplifying the tax code by lowering the overall tax rate and simultaneously ending industry-specific incentives.”
Fiscally conservative groups who support a fundamental rewrite of the U.S. tax code — including a wipeout of specific tax incentives, credits and deductions — have been arguing that the Natural Gas Act is an unfair giveaway to a single industry. Similar opposition also has been mounted against subsidies for ethanol that critics say is designed mainly to benefit corn-growing farmers.
Grover Norquist is winning his political struggle with Boone Pickens. (Official photo)
Grover Norquist, the head of Americans for Tax Reform, made his case against the bill in a letter to House members earlier this month. His chief argument: Tax policies for specific energy sources, be they natural gas or renewable power, skew the energy market away from the most reliable, cheapest options.