Friday, April 11, 2008

Senate Approves Clean Energy Tax Stimulus Amendment

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Apr 10: By an overwhelming vote of 88-8 the Senate passed the Clean Energy Tax Stimulus amendment, which was added to H.R.3221, The Foreclosure Prevention Act of 2008. The amendment, which contains the same text as stand-alone legislation (S.2821) introduced April 3, by Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and John Ensign (R-NV) [
See WIMS 4/4/08], will extend the renewable energy production tax credit for one year and the solar energy and fuel cell investment tax credit for eight years. U.S. Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM), Ranking Member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, and Republican leader on energy issues, joined the Senate to approve the bipartisan amendment.

Senator Cantwell said, “The renewable and efficiency industries have been soaring, creating thousands of jobs and diversifying our energy supply. . . By extending these tax incentives, we are not only providing certainty to these industries, infusing money into our economy, but creating high-paying, long-term jobs to help Americans get through these tough economic times.”

Senator Domenici said, “Today’s action by the Senate sends a strong signal that clean energy tax credits must be kept in place to help us meet our energy challenges. By extending these credits, we will ensure that vital work on clean energy technologies like wind, solar and biomass will continue. While I would prefer a longer term extension of the production tax credit, I am nevertheless pleased that the Senate was able to come together and craft this bipartisan measure."

In his release Domenici indicated that while some have advocating paying for the tax credit extensions with specific offsets [i.e. the House-passed Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax of 2008 (H.R. 5351)], he said it his belief that it was unnecessary due to the stimulative effect of the tax credits. On February 27, the U.S. House passed H.R. 5351 by a vote of 236 - 182 [See WIMS 2/28/08,
3/5/08]. That bill, sponsored by Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel (D-NY), contained controversial revenue provisions were expected to raise approximately $18 billion over 10 years, by freezing tax benefits for certain major integrated oil companies.

Regarding the lack of offsetting revenues in the current legislation, Domenici said, “As former chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, I have been committed to fiscal discipline for my entire career. But when one takes a larger view of these energy tax credits, it becomes obvious that they stimulate the economy, create jobs, and help America become less dependent on foreign sources of oil, which in my judgment is currently the biggest strain on our economy. The evidence of this can be seen in the stimulative effect of the tax incentives passed in EPACT 2005 when I was chairman. It is therefore unnecessary to offset the tax credits, since the end result will be a benefit to our economy and energy security.”

In addition to extending production and solar tax credits, the amendment authorizes $400 million for Clean Renewable Energy Bonds, and extends tax credits for those who modify or build energy-efficient homes and commercial buildings. The amendment also extends credits for energy efficient appliances such as dishwashers and refrigerators. Among the technologies that benefit from the renewable energy tax credit are wind, biomass, geothermal, small irrigation power, landfill gas, trash combustion and hydropower facilities.

Access a release from Senator Cantwell (click here). Access a release from Senator Domenici (click here). Access legislative details for H.R. 3221 (click here). Access legislative details for S. 2821 (click here). Access details of the roll call vote (click here). [*Energy]