A group of Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives has introduced new legislation that would extend a number of incentives for wind power and other forms of renewable energy while stripping subsidies for fossil fuels.
The bill – Investing to Modernize the Production of American Clean Energy and Technology (IMPACT Act) – introduced by Reps. Ed Markey, D-Mass.; Henry Waxman, D-Calif.; John Larson, D-Conn.; Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore.; and Bill Pascrell Jr.; D-N.J. – proposes an eight-year extension to the production tax credit (PTC) for wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, landfill gas, hydropower, and marine and hydrokinetic power production.
Notably, however, the bill specifies that if a renewable electricity standard or similar measure – such as the clean energy standard proposed most recently by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M. – were to become law, the PTC would be phased out within 12 months.
The legislation also would renew the Section 1603 renewable energy cash-grant program – which expired at the end of last year – for another two years.
Among the provisions of the bill is a specific carve-out for offshore wind energy. Under the legislation, the first 3 GW of offshore wind power projects would be eligible for a 30% investment tax credit.
The IMPACT Act is not only pro-renewables, but also pro-manufacturing, as it provides for $5 billion in tax credits under the Section 48C program for the construction of new and modified clean energy technologies.
The bill also contains provisions to extend tax credits for energy-efficient appliances, electric vehicles and natural-gas trucks, as well as to encourage the development of more pumping and charging stations for alternative-fuel and electric vehicles.
How are we paying for all this?
According to the House Natural Resources Committee, the measures contained in the bill would cost approximately $33.1 billion over the next 10 years. So as lawmakers feverishly scurry to whittle down the nation's $15 trillion+ deficit in an election year, how would all of these incentives ever get paid for?
Here's how: The IMPACT Act would end $44.8 billion in tax breaks for oil companies, which would result in a deficit reduction of approximately $11.7 billion over 10 years – a solution Markey, ranking member of the House Natural Resources Committee, said is long overdue.
"When Americans are still paying $4 for a gallon of gas in many parts of the country, Americans shouldn't also be handing over $4 billion a year in tax breaks to Big Oil, when we could be helping manufacture the clean energy and natural-gas alternatives to foreign oil," he said in a statement. "Budgets in American households and in the House of Representatives both hand over too much money to oil companies, and it needs to end at the gas pump and at tax time."
Waxman, ranking member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, seconded that call.
"The only real solution to our energy challenges is to reduce our dependence on oil by making a transition to the clean energy technologies of the future," he said in a statement. "This bill helps us down that road by ending the billions of dollars in unjustified subsidies the oil companies receive every year and using the funds to support investments in clean energy, including electric and natural-gas vehicles, and wind and solar energy."