GOP presidential candidate Jeb Bush said that he would phase out subsidies for oil and natural gas as well as those for wind and solar energy, he told a New Hampshire environmental activist in a video provided to the Washington Examiner.
"I think we should phase out through tax reform tax breaks for wind, for solar, for the oil and gas sector — for all this stuff," the ex-Florida governor told an activist with 350 Action, the advocacy arm of 350.org, at a Granite State event. "The best way to get to the best form of the next economy fuel system is let markets decide this."
When pressed again by the activist — "So you'd like to get rid of all fossil fuel subsidies?" — Bush doubled down.
"All of them," he said. "Wind, solar, all renewables — and oil and gas," adding that the point of tax reform should be to lower the rate as much as possible while eliminating targeted incentives for industries.
Renewable energy industries say they need subsidies because they operate on an uneven playing field with the oil and gas industry, which receive legacy incentives in the federal tax code.
But what Bush considers a subsidy for the oil and gas question is key. His campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.
The oil and gas industry has defended its incentives as business deductions. Renewable energy industries, meanwhile, receive temporary subsidies whose survival is subject to the whims of Congress.
Other energy industries say that the oil and gas industry receives through the federal tax code are subsidies. Solar panel businesses, for example, would have a hard time taking advantage of the "intangible drilling cost" deduction awarded to oil and gas drillers to write down equipment expenses.
But there's also nuance in which oil and gas subsidies benefit the smaller oil and gas drillers at the forefront of the shale energy boom and those that aid the oil "majors" like ExxonMobil and Chevron. President Obama and congressional Democrats have largely pursued stripping subsidies for those big companies rather than mom-and-pop drillers.