Need examination of all energy tax credits

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There needs to be an overall examination of all the energy tax credits and how the U.S. tax code benefits various energy businesses, but Congress should not be eliminating the wind energy production tax credit arbitrarily while allowing other tax breaks to continue, said Howard Learner, president and executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

Learner recently spoke with Monica Trauzzi, moderator for OnPoint video news from E&E TV, and said, “There probably needs to be an examination overhaul, a real study, of how we look at all these energy subsidies and how we deal with them all on a fair basis as part of the tax code, but you can’t just pick one and say get rid of this subsidy while the others continue. Extend the production tax credit; let it stay in effect while the overall reexamination goes forward.”

In justifying the wind industry tax credit, he said, “Our energy system is full of subsidies—for oil, for gas, for nuclear, for coal—so, to pick any one and say we are going to get rid of your subsidy but the others will continue just doesn’t work; it is not fair, and it is not a level playing field. Secondly, a number of people in the wind industry have said, give us a glide path to phase it out, but keep it in place a little while longer. Let’s seize the opportunity to move wind power forward in this country. It is low polluting, it keeps people at work, and it helps to remove some of the dependence we have on oil sources.”

Learner also noted how a large number of jobs in the U.S. are dependent on the production tax credit continuing so that wind energy collection expands. He said the impact is much more than jobs at the wind parks and includes a lot of manufacturing jobs for the wind turbines and equipment in states other than where the wind parks are established.

He said the wind industry has been extremely frustrated with the gridlock in Congress, which has been holding back the industry in making business plans in case the rug is pulled out from under it.

Learner predicts the production tax credit will be extended by the end of the year or early in the next Congress for “two years or maybe a year and a half while Congress looks at the overall set of energy tax credits.”

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