WASHINGTON - Sens. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., and John Ensign, R-Nev., yesterday introduced bipartisan legislation that would extend energy tax incentives and provide an additional $400 million of clean renewable energy bonds for public power providers and cooperatives that are not eligible for renewable energy tax credits.
The Clean Energy Tax Stimulus Act of 2008, which is cosponsored by 21 other Senators, would extend lapsed and expiring energy efficiency tax credits and provide tax deductions for businesses and homeowners who invest in renewable energy or take steps to increase their energy efficiency.
"The renewable and efficiency industries have been soaring, creating thousands of jobs and diversifying our energy supply," said Cantwell, a member of the Senate Finance Committee. "Critical tax incentives are set to expire this year. If both houses of Congress don't pass a bill, and the President doesn't sign it into law within the next one or two months, we will start to see as much as $20 billion of anticipated investment in 2008 delayed or cancelled. This could result in more than 100,000 U.S. jobs lost at a time when the country is skidding into a recession, and energy prices keep getting higher."
The $400 million of CREBs would be an addition to the $1.2 billion of such bonds that Congress has already provided under a program created in 2005. These taxable bonds provide holders with income tax credits in lieu of tax-exempt interest payments.
Cantwell fought to include most of these energy tax incentives in legislation earlier this year, but the incentives were stripped from the package because of opposition to a proposed repeal of $18 billion of tax breaks to oil and gas producers that would have paid for the incentives.
The bill introduced yesterday by Cantwell and Ensign would not provide any such revenue raisers and supporters of the measure claim they have the 60 votes needed to limit debate and win approval in the Senate.
But even if the bill is approved by the Senate, the failure to provide such offsets could spell trouble in the House where lawmakers typically only support pay-as-you-go proposals, in which provisions that would lose revenues are offset by those that would raise revenues.