GOP lawmakers who bemoan corporate welfare or the picking of winners and losers by the government seldom mention the billions of dollars in special tax deductions and credits awarded to oil and gas companies yearly, nor the fact that the nation's nuclear power industry would not exist if not for government loan guarantees that shifted the risks of construction onto taxpayers.

We too would like to see wind farms compete on their own without assistance, but the industry is still too underdeveloped for that. The ideal solution would be for Congress, when it considers tax reforms next year, to end the practice of annual renewals for the wind-power tax credit, instead approving a long-term assistance program that phases out the subsidy over time. That would provide certainty for the industry while prodding it to become more cost-efficient. Meanwhile, the lame-duck Congress must renew the subsidy before it, and its powerful public benefits, are gone with the wind.

Photo: Wind turbines are seen at the L.A. DWP Pine Tree Wind Farm located in the Tehachapi Mountains. (Los Angeles Times)