Dems Push to Extend Clean-Energy Tax Credits

WASHINGTON - MAY 04: U.S. Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA), Chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, speaks to the media as he arrives for a closed briefing by BP officials on Capitol Hill May 4, 2010 in Washington, DC. BP officials were on the Hill to brief legislators on the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. 
National Journal
Clare Foran
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Clare Foran
Dec. 16, 2013, 8:07 a.m.

With a number of tax incentives for renewable-energy production set to expire at the end of the year, some mostly Democratic lawmakers are urging Congress to pass an extenders package in the absence of comprehensive tax reform.

Members of the House Sustainable Energy and Environment Coalition wrote to House Ways and Means Committee leadership on Monday calling for an extension of a slate of clean-energy tax credits currently on the chopping block. The move was timed to coincide with the release of a nearly identical letter sent by a coalition of Democratic and independent senators to Senate Finance Committee leadership.

Both letters express support for an overhaul of the tax code, which would fall under the jurisdiction of the two committees, but stress the importance of extending a number of tax incentives intended to spur renewable-energy production.

“As we approach the end of the calendar year, many tax programs that are critical for creating jobs, deploying clean energy, and cutting pollution are facing expiration. If a broader tax code overhaul cannot be achieved by year’s end, it is imperative that these key clean energy tax incentives are renewed as soon as possible,” both of the letters state.

The wind-production tax credit, worth 2.3 cents per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by wind power, has taken center stage in the battle over expiring clean-energy tax provisions as the year winds to a close. The wind credit is at the top of the list of credits the lawmakers want to see extended as soon as possible.

Beyond that, the lawmakers ask for the continuation of a number of other tax provisions, including the investment tax credit for renewable energy, the advanced energy manufacturing tax credit, and tax credits for efficient new homes and appliances as well as hybrid medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

Unlike its House counterpart, however, the Senate version of the letter also asks for an extension of the alternative-fuel vehicle-refueling property credit, the residential energy-efficiency tax credit, and a number of tax incentives for advanced biofuels.

The letters signals growing concern among stakeholders connected to industries affected by the credits that Congress will not act to pass an extenders package before the end of the year.

In the past, tax extenders have been almost routinely approved on Capitol Hill. This year the legislative landscape is a bit different, however, as leaders of the House Ways and Means and Senate Finance committees appear hesitant to pass any kind of stopgap measure until comprehensive tax reform begins to move.

Prospects for an extenders package have also dimmed with the release of a budget deal in the House that does not include provisions for an extension of any of the credits set to expire.

Extension of the wind-production tax credit faces Republican opposition in the House, with even members from some of the windiest districts in the U.S. calling for a drawdown of the tax incentive.

On the House side, signatories of the letter include Reps. Paul Tonko, D-N.Y.; Rush Holt, D-N.J.; and Chellie Pingree, D-Maine. The Senate letter is signed by Sens. Edward Markey, D-Mass.; Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn.; Barbara Boxer, D-Calif.; Christopher Coons, D-Del.; Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; and 19 others.

Amy Harder contributed to this article.
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