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Influence

Building, Environmental Groups Back Snowe Tax Bill

A coalition of real estate and environment groups are backing a tax code bill introduced by Sen. Olympia Snowe, R-Maine, that would reform a tax deduction that rewards energy efficiency with the hope of making it easier for builders to use it.

The bill would also extend the current tax deduction through 2016. It's set to expire at the end of 2013, through 2016.

The Real Estate Roundtable, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the U.S. Green Building Council are all throwing their support behind the bill. Their argument for it: it's cumbersome for builders to apply the current code, which means that it's only really being used for partial building upgrades, not full-on retrofiring of whole buildings.

The bill is also cosponsored by Democratic Sens. Jeff Bingaman, Ben Cardin and Dianne Feinstein, and has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee. Snowe is a senior member on the committee, and introduced the bill before the Senate went into recess.

The industry groups, just like the lawmakers, are pitching it as a jobs bill (as is nearly every other bill being offered up this session). They cite an analysis conducted by the three groups that claims reforming the tax code would generate thousands of construction and manufacturing jobs.

"By making commonsense reforms to the existing 179D tax deduction, we will help encourage energy savings, create good-paying jobs in the construction industry, and reduce energy bills for American consumers," Snowe said in a statement.

The coalition of groups has a sizable Hill presence. RER has spent $2.16 million on lobbying thus far this year, according to data from the Center for Responsive Politics. NRDC has spent $243,431 and USGBC has spent $180,000.

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