Did House Dems kill renewable tax credit extension?
Sure looks that way. I wasn’t entirely thrilled with everything in the Senate bill. But given how dreadful congressional Democrats and environmentalists are at messaging, it is surely the best anybody could hope for.
The House Dems threw out elements of the tax package that were crucial to get the support of Senate Republicans and the White House — and that apparently is going to kill the tax credits for the year. If so, shame on them.
Here is the Greenwire story ($ub. req’d):
The House today approved a package of renewable energy tax credit extensions, but continuation of the incentives, which are crucial for the renewable industry, remains uncertain because of House-Senate differences over how to proceed on the issue.
Major provisions in the bill approved 257-166 late this morning include a one-year extension of the production tax credit for wind projects and a nearly three-year extension for biomass, geothermal and some other alternative energy forms.
The bill provides an eight-year extension of investment tax credits for residential and commercial solar projects.
The energy credits are coupled with extension of various individual and business tax credits, such as the research and development credit. “We’ve put together a bill that makes a lot of sense on the issues — tax relief for families and businesses, energy independence and creating new, green jobs for our economy,” Ways and Means Chairman Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) said in a statement.
But a bipartisan collection of senators today pleaded with House Democrats to accept their version of the broad tax package approved earlier this week, warning that any changes could doom the effort for the year. “If the House does not pass the [Senate] bill, it’s dead, it’s dead for the year,” said Sen. John Ensign (R-Nev.).
The House and Senate energy packages also contain credits for efficient homes and buildings, manufacture of efficient appliances and buying plug-in hybrid cars, as well as incentives for biodiesel and other technologies.
But while both plans create and extend various energy incentives, there are key differences. While the House plan approved today was fully offset at the insistence of House Democrats, the Senate package was only partially paid for as part of a delicate bipartisan compromise that allowed the bill to advance after months of stalemate.
The White House has endorsed the Senate approach while threatening to veto the House package.
The House package differs from the Senate plan in other ways, such as the absence of a provision that provide money for rural counties hurt by the decline in timber sales on federal lands.
“We are in peril if the House does not take up and pass this legislation,” said Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), who said the Senate bill was “massaged as much as it can be.”
Also, the Senate packaged various energy, business and personal credit extensions with a “patch” for the Alternative Minimum Tax and tax relief for areas hit by natural disasters. The House moved the AMT and disaster pieces separately.
The senators spoke today flanked by renewable energy industry officials and other supporters of the various credits. Whirlpool CEO Jeff Fettig called credits for manufacture of efficient appliances crucial. “We see this manufacturing tax credit as an enabler for us to continue our investment,” he said.
Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) said efforts to address the Wall Street crisis should not remove the focus from extending energy credits. He is urging passage of the Senate plan.
“It would really be quite a crime if the urgency of the moment, which is this bailout, was going to push this really important thing off the table,” Bartlett said, noting that thousands of industry jobs are also at stake.