The United Steelworkers, which vociferously supported black liquor tax credits for U.S. pulp mills, suddenly seems to have decided that renewable-energy subsidies are not such a good idea.
In a case of One Person's (or Country's) Jobs and Energy Program Is Another's Unfair Subsidy, the union filed a complaint this week accusing China of "protectionist and predatory practices . . . to develop their green sector at the expense of production and job creation here in the U.S."
It was only last year that Canada and other countries accused the U.S. of violating free-trade rules by allowing pulp mills to hijack a renewable-energy program and get government subsidies for using black liquor, a pulp byproduct, as fuel. And it was only last year that the Steelworkers, the major union for U.S. pulp and paper industry workers, defended those black liquor tax credits for "saving thousands of Steelworker and other jobs.”
"The tax credit has turned out to be good for both jobs and for America's energy future," one Steelworkers leader said at the time.
Despite some politicians' criticism of the tax credits during the spring of 2009, Congress' failure to close the loophole enabled publicly traded pulp manufacturers to reap about $6.6 billion in federal money last year. A Steelworkers publication says privately held Georgia Pacific received an additional $5 billion in black liquor credits.