Will Scott veto energy bill? Read the tea (party) leavesby John Kennedy | April 10th, 2012
Conservative activists called Tuesday for Gov. Rick Scott to veto an energy bill pushed by fellow Republican Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam, with critics saying it picks winners and losers by providing tax incentives to wind-, solar- and biofuel companies.
Americans for Prosperity and the Heartland Institute have been spearheading an effort that’s flooded Scott with emails and phone calls opposing HB 7117, which would provide $16 million in renewable energy tax credits next year.
The organizations’ condemn the approach as “crony energy” that builds on millions of dollars in incentives already provided for alternate energy production by the Obama administration, which they also oppose.
“There’s no reason to set us down this path,” said Slade O’Brien, state director for Americans for Prosperity. “I don’t think there are going to be economic benefits. You’re basically going to cost the Florida taxpayer more money for energy….if you’re passing this bill, increasing the energy costs of being in Florida as opposed to being in Georgia, as opposed to being in Alabama…that’s not good business. That’s not smart.”
Americans for Prosperity, a grassroots activist organization, was founded by David and Charles Koch, whose Koch Industries includes oil refineries, energy development and commodities trading. AFP also is a mainstay of the tea party movement, which was a big Scott supporter in his 2010 election.
AFP and the Heartland Institute’s opposition creates some tricky crosswinds for Scott.
Putnam, a former congressman, is seen as a future Republican candidate for governor — maybe even a 2014 primary opponent for Scott. Putnam has been a strong proponent of energy diversity, which draws support from the state’s agricultural industry, already invested in biofuel production.
In another twist, the energy bill’s House sponsor, Rep. Scott Plakon, R-Longwood, had been AFP’s ‘legislator of the year’ last year.
O’Brien offered no apologies.
“We’re equal opportunity complainers when things aren’t right,” O’Brien said.