House Democrats release renewable energy tax proposal

Democrats on the House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday released draft legislation aimed at addressing climate change by extending and expanding tax breaks for renewable energy.

“This bill will build on existing tax incentives that promote renewable energy and increase efficiency and create new models for technology and activity to reduce our carbon footprint,” Rep. Mike Thompson (D-Calif.), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee’s tax subcommittee, said in a news release.

The draft legislation would extend a host of renewable energy tax breaks, including the production tax credit and the investment tax credit.

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It also would expand the electric vehicle tax credit and create new tax credits for buyers of used electric cars and manufacturers of zero-emission commercial vehicles and buses.

Additionally, it would create a tax credit for colleges and universities for environmental justice programs. And it would direct the Treasury Department to analyze the feasibility of setting a price on carbon-dioxide emissions, using Environmental Protection Agency data.

The release of the discussion draft comes amid growing interest among Democratic lawmakers to tackle climate change.

“The climate crisis requires bold action, and I’m pleased that we’re using the legislative tools at Ways and Means’ disposal to create green jobs, reduce carbon emissions, and help heal our planet,” Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal (D-Mass.) said. “We look forward to hearing from stakeholders to ensure this bill is effective in helping improve energy efficiency and eliminating carbon emissions.”

The draft bill has the backing of a number of environmental groups.

“This is a critical priority that will boost jobs across the booming clean energy economy to promote economic growth and lower emissions in states across the nation,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune.

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Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, said that his group is “particularly encouraged by the stable tax platform this proposal would bring to the renewable sector, and its critical support for emerging markets like energy storage, electric vehicles and offshore wind.”

The proposal also has its critics.

Jason Pye, vice president of legislative affairs of the right-leaning group FreedomWorks said that the draft bill “attempts to further manipulate markets to promote more environmentally-friendly practices.”

“Unfortunately, such policies not only fail to achieve their goals but also unfairly choose winners and losers, to the detriment of all Americans,” Pye added.

Supporters of the proposal hope that a clean-energy tax package can be attached to must-pass legislation this year, but it’s unclear if Congress will actually take up a year-end tax bill.

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Written by Alan Smith

Alan Smith

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