May 28 News: Uneven Tax Playing Field Benefits Fossil Fuel Over Clean Energy Companies

Oil and gas drillers are taking advantage of a quirk in the tax system unavailable to renewable energy companies such that a growing number are paying minuscule tax bills. [Forbes] More and more of the companies benefiting from new technologies that are fueling America’s recent energy boom are paying little or no taxes. In early May, Emerge Energy Services sold $127 million in shares in an initial public offering. Emerge (EMES) supplies sand to oil and gas drillers for blasting through rocks in the hydraulic fracturing process. The company says demand for frac sand has risen nearly 1,600% in the past decade, according to the IPO documents. It expects demand to double again in the next decade. Sales at Emerge, which provides various services to energy companies, have more than tripled in the past two years to nearly $1 billion in 2012. It earned just over $27 million last year. Nonetheless, Emerge, which is structured as a master limited partnership, paid just $160,000 in overall taxes, for a rate of 0.5%, and none of that went to the federal government. “The IRS has been very generous to these companies,” says Willard Taylor, a corporate tax lawyer at Sullivan and Cromwell. “Absent a change, the number of companies looking to take advantage of this tax status will continue to grow.” Politico: “Where’s President Obama’s climate agenda?” [Politico] Bill McKibben won the 2013 Sophie Prize for his work mobilizing people to climate activism. [AP] Warming oceans could lead to more dolphin deaths in South Australia. [Guardian] The State Department’s Inspector General is looking into serious conflict-of-interest concerns regarding the industry ties of the consultants that wrote the draft analysis for the Keystone pipeline. [The Hill] What happens to used cars when fuel efficiency standards that only apply to new cars go into effect? [Washington Post] What it means when the U.S. begins to produce more oil, while consuming less oil. [New York Times] General Electric is investing heavily into new technology and equipment surrounding the oil and gas boom, hoping to reduce the impacts of fracking. [AP] Gasoline prices in the Midwest spiked to record levels. [Washington Post] Clean energy firm teams up with veterans organization to connect vets looking for jobs with solar panels looking for roofs. [Solar Love] Business media outlet CNBC recognized the value of energy companies that help people use less energy, in addition to energy companies that produce energy. [Scientific American] Germany looks at ways to lower energy prices in the midst of its transition from coal and nuclear to 80 percent renewable energy — also known as Energiewende. [Time] Israeli electric car battery swapping company Better Place filed for liquidation over the weekend, and the Sydney Morning Herald looks into why this happened. [Sydney Morning Herald] Could Fisker Automotive’s Department of Energy loan be paid back when the company is bought out by… Henrik Fisker? [Gas2, Reuters]

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