Muckraker: Grist on Politics

• The House Ways and Means Committee marked up the stimulus package on Thursday, adding lots of goodies that should make clean-energy fans happy. It added $20 billion in renewable-energy and energy-efficiency tax credits and related financial incentives. The committee inserted language to make the investment tax credit passed last year refundable. It also increased by 20 percent the research expense credits for renewable energy, energy conservation, fuel cells, batteries, efficient transmission and distribution, and carbon capture and sequestration. The alternative-fuel vehicle refueling property credit was increased from 30 percent to 50 percent through 2010, and the residential energy-efficiency and energy-improvements tax credit was raised from 10 percent to 30 percent. The Senate Finance Committee will now have to consider the changes.

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• On Wednesday, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker (R) sent a letter [PDF] to his colleagues bashing the climate plan from the U.S. Climate Action Partnership. “It appears their blueprint promotes many of the same problematic provisions that have plagued cap-and-trade bills in the past,” wrote Corker. The lawmaker urged support for a carbon pricing plan that returns 100 percent of the revenue to consumers, and said he opposes the inclusion of international and domestic offsets.

• Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) has introduced a bill that would make it easier for homeowners and small businesses to install solar panels by allowing them to use both benefits provided by local governments and the full federal solar tax credit (the tax code currently prohibits this). The bill would also create a manufacturing tax credit for solar equipment, and allow federal buildings to enter into long-term solar-power purchase agreements. “These are the sorts of programs with short- and long-term economy benefits that should be considered for an economic recovery package,” said Menendez.

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