Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Senator's Powerful Statement Puts Wind PTC in Perspective

Business
Senator's Powerful Statement Puts Wind PTC in Perspective

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) spoke up about the “intellectually dishonest argument” that bubbled to the surface at a Senate Finance Committee hearing on April 3rd.

His remarks were in response to an amendment introduced by Sen. Toomey (R-PA), under the short title “Eliminate crony capitalist energy tax credits,” which proposed to eliminate the renewable energy Production Tax Credit (PTC), as well as credits for renewable fuels, energy efficient appliances, electric motorcycles and fuel cell vehicles. In explaining the amendment, Sen. Toomey declared wind power to be a “politically favored form of energy.”

Senator Grassley gave a powerful response that put energy tax credits in context (the transcript is below the video):

... Many of us have been clamoring for tax reform for years now.  Just because we haven’t cleaned up the tax code in a comprehensive way doesn’t mean we should pull the rug from under our domestic renewable energy producers. Doing so would cost jobs, harm our economy, the environment, and our national security…The proponents of this amendment want to hold this debate in a vacuum. It shouldn’t be held in a vacuum. We ought to do it with regard for many incentives and subsidies that exist for other sources of energy and are permanent law.

“For example, the 100-year-old oil and gas industry continues to benefit from tax preferences that benefit only their industry…we have expenses for intangible drilling costs, deductions for tertiary injections, percentage depletion for oil wells, special amortization for geological costs. These four tax preferences for this single industry result in the loss of more than $4 billion annually in revenue.

“Nuclear energy is another great example. The first nuclear power plant came online in 1958—56 years ago. Nuclear receives special tax treatment for decommissioning trust funds. Congress created a production tax credit for this mature industry in 2005. Quite frankly I was a part of that—it was a bill that I helped develop. That’s available until 2020. Nuclear also benefits from Price-Anderson federal liability insurance—talk about temporary measures becoming permanent, that was a temporary measure in 1958 and it’s been renewed through 2025. Nuclear energy also has received $74 billion in research and development dollars since 1950.

“Now, are these ‘crony capitalist’ handouts? Why is repealing a subsidy for oil and gas or nuclear energy production a ‘tax increase on energy producers and consumers’ while repealing an incentive on alternative renewable energy is not? This is all part of an intellectually dishonest argument.

“I authored [the bill that created the renewable energy production tax credit] in 1992 and when we did it, we knew it was not going to be forever. It’s going to be phased out when it’s a mature industry and it’s getting close to that now. In 2012, the wind energy was the only industry to put forward a phase out plan, but any phase out must be done—get this—in the context of comprehensive tax reform, where all energy tax provisions are on the table. And it should be done responsibly over a few years to provide certainty and ensure a viable industry.”

Sen. Toomey’s amendment failed by a vote of 18-6 in the Senate Finance Committee. Senators Toomey (R-PA), Isakson (R-GA), Roberts (R-KS), Burr (R-NC), Hatch (R-UT) and Enzi (R-WY) supported it, and the remainder of the Committee members opposed.

The Committee later approved, via voice vote, the Expiring Provisions Improvement Reform and Efficiency (EXPIRE) Act of 2014. This bill includes an extension of the renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) and investment tax credit (ITC) which would let wind energy developers qualify for the tax credits if they start construction on their wind projects by the end of 2015.  The next step will be for the EXPIRE Act to move to the Senate floor for consideration.

In the broader picture, the Senate Finance Committee members agree that they wish to address tax reform in a comprehensive fashion, rather than through short-term bills like this one.  Chairman Wyden (D-OR) declared that this consideration of the EXPIRE ACT would be the last time that the Committee works on tax extension provisions.  They plan to pivot to comprehensive tax reform in the future.

——–

YOU ALSO MIGHT LIKE

New Wind PTC Proposal Would Dramatically Decrease Incentive Before Eliminating It

50,000 Wind Energy Supporters Call on Incoming Senate Committee Leader to Extend Tax Credit

——–

Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker speaks during the National Clean Energy Summit 9.0 on October 13, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Isaac Brekken for National Clean Energy Summit / Getty Images

Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker vetoed a sweeping climate bill on Thursday that would have put the commonwealth on a path to eliminating carbon emissions by 2050.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Commuters make their way through a flooded street after heavy monsoon rains in Dhaka, Bangladesh on July 21, 2020. Munir Uz Zaman / Getty Images

By Ajit Niranjan

World leaders and businesses are not putting enough money into adapting to dangerous changes in the climate and must "urgently step up action," according to a report published Thursday by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).

Read More Show Less

Trending

A wolverine in Finland on June 19, 2019. yrjö jyske / CC BY 2.0

A Yellowstone National Park trail camera received a surprising visitor last month.

Read More Show Less
An offshore oil platform in West Africa. Cavan Images / Getty Images

For the first time, researchers have identified 100 transnational corporations that take home the majority of profits from the ocean's economy.

Read More Show Less
A coalition of climate, Indigenous and racial justice groups gathered at Columbus Circle to kick off Climate Week with the Climate Justice Through Racial Justice march on Sept. 20, 2020. Erik McGregor / LightRocket via Getty Images

Environmental groups and the foundations that fund them made incremental, if mixed, progress toward diversifying their staff and leadership in 2020 but remain overwhelmingly white, according to a report issued by Green 2.0 Wednesday.

Read More Show Less