Baucus Proposes Consolidation of Energy Tax Credits, Preserves Wind PTC Through 2016
Though the head of the U.S. Senate Finance Committee chair says he wants to revamp the nation's energy tax credits, a draft he presented Wednesday shows his preference to let some expire while consolidating others.
There are currently 42 energy tax incentives, including 16 for clean energy, alternative vehicles and renewable fuels. About $16.4 billion in tax incentives are currently offered to producers of wind, geothermal and nuclear energy producers and other green companies. Under Chairman Max Baucus' (D-MT) plan, the 42 credits would be consolidated into just two.
“Our current set of energy tax incentives is overly complex and picks winners and losers with no clear policy rationale," the congressman wrote in a statement. "We need a system of energy incentives that is more predictable, rational, and technology-neutral to increase our energy security and ensure a clean and healthy environment for future generations.”
Baucus has no desire to continue the country's trend of renewing expiring credits. His plan would allow 11 breaks to expire or be repealed, such as the credit for plug-in electric vehicles and for building energy efficient homes. The oft-discussed wind production tax credit is among the 31 that would remain in place for about three more years before being consolidated into one of the two new credits, according to Bloomberg.
"We commend Chairman Baucus and the Senate Finance Committee for putting forward a sound policy option to provide domestic energy producers with stability for the years to come," said Rob Gramlich, senior vice president of public police for the American Wind Energy Association. "We appreciate Senator Baucus' leadership in trying to find common ground to ensure that the U.S. is well-suited to face the energy challenges of the 21st century by promoting a diverse energy portfolio.”
Baucus says extending current incentives would cost $150 billion over the next decade. His new plan would divide clean energy incentives into a new production tax credit that would provide up to 2.3 cents per kilowatt hour or a new investment tax credit worth up to 20 percent.
The seven electricity generation incentives are among those the draft seeks to consolidate. That and other elements of the draft don't sit well with the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), which is fresh off promoting a historic quarter of installations.
“While we appreciate efforts by Chairman Baucus to make the convoluted U.S. tax code simpler and fairer for everyone, we’re very concerned that reducing the solar [investment tax credit] and dramatically altering the way companies depreciate their assets could jeopardize future clean energy development in the U.S.," Rhone Resch, president and CEO of SEIA. "At a time when we’re searching for creative ways to reduce carbon emissions, fight climate change and improve U.S. competitiveness, the continued development of a strong, viable solar industry in the U.S. is critically important."
Baucus seeks comments on his proposal by Jan. 31. The email address for feedback regarding the plan is [email protected].
Visit EcoWatch’s RENEWABLES page for more related news on this topic.
At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.
Migratory beekeeping involves trucking millions of bees across the U.S. to pollinate different crops, including avocados and almonds. Timothy Paule II / Pexels / CC0<p>According to <a href="https://www.fromthegrapevine.com/israeli-kitchen/beekeeping-how-to-keep-bees" target="_blank">From the Grapevine</a>, American avocados also fully depend on bees' pollination to produce fruit, so farmers have turned to migratory beekeeping as well to fill the void left by wild populations.</p><p>U.S. farmers have become reliant upon the practice, but migratory beekeeping has been called exploitative and harmful to bees. <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/10/health/avocado-almond-vegan-partner/index.html" target="_blank">CNN</a> reported that commercial beekeeping may injure or kill bees and that transporting them to pollinate crops appears to negatively affect their health and lifespan. Because the honeybees are forced to gather pollen and nectar from a single, monoculture crop — the one they've been brought in to pollinate — they are deprived of their normal diet, which is more diverse and nourishing as it's comprised of a variety of pollens and nectars, Scientific American reported.</p><p>Scientific American added how getting shuttled from crop to crop and field to field across the country boomerangs the bees between feast and famine, especially once the blooms they were brought in to fertilize end.</p><p>Plus, the artificial mass influx of bees guarantees spreading viruses, mites and fungi between the insects as they collide in midair and crawl over each other in their hives, Scientific American reported. According to CNN, some researchers argue that this explains why so many bees die each winter, and even why entire hives suddenly die off in a phenomenon called colony collapse disorder.</p>
Avocado and almond crops depend on bees for proper pollination. FRANK MERIÑO / Pexels / CC0<p>Salazar and other Columbian beekeepers described "scooping up piles of dead bees" year after year since the avocado and citrus booms began, according to Phys.org. Many have opted to salvage what partial colonies survive and move away from agricultural areas.</p><p>The future of pollinators and the crops they help create is uncertain. According to the United Nations, nearly half of insect pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, risk global extinction, Phys.org reported. Their decline already has cascading consequences for the economy and beyond. Roughly 1.4 billion jobs and three-quarters of all crops around the world depend on bees and other pollinators for free fertilization services worth billions of dollars, Phys.org noted. Losing wild and native bees could <a href="https://www.ecowatch.com/wild-bees-crop-shortage-2646849232.html" target="_self">trigger food security issues</a>.</p><p>Salazar, the beekeeper, warned Phys.org, "The bee is a bioindicator. If bees are dying, what other insects beneficial to the environment... are dying?"</p>
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