Baucus energy draft expected tomorrow

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Apparently not content to simply ease into the holiday recess, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is expected tomorrow to release a draft tax reform bill focused on the energy sector, Senate aides said yesterday.

Details of the draft are being closely held. A Finance Committee aide declined to provide any details yesterday, and several other aides to senators with an interest in energy policy said they had not seen the details of the draft.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), who chairs the Finance Subcommittee on Energy, Natural Resources and Infrastructure, said last week that her staff had been discussing the coming draft with Baucus. She did not provide any details except to say they had not at that point decided how to address the wind production tax credit. A Stabenow spokesman did not respond to a request for comment yesterday.

“We’ve been working with them at the staff level indicating we want as long a policy as we can get,” Stabenow told reporters last week. “We obviously want it fair for … all kinds of energy sources.”

The draft would be the latest entry in Baucus’ long-running efforts to enact comprehensive tax reform before he retires at the end of next year. Most observers are skeptical that legislation could be enacted in that time frame, but the document could provide an important marker for future tax reform proposals.

It is not entirely clear how broad the draft’s scope will be. Many tax issues important to oil and gas companies were addressed in an earlier Baucus draft that proposed eliminating some of the industry’s most cherished tax breaks (E&E Daily, Nov. 22).

Baucus has not yet weighed in on a suite of other energy tax incentives that are typically addressed every few years as part of a larger “extenders” package to renew temporary tax breaks. Among those are the renewable energy production tax credit — the highest-profile incentive of the bunch — as well as numerous breaks intended to promote energy efficiency, biofuels and other alternative fuels.

Most of those breaks are on track to expire at the end of this year, and their broader fate is at this point tied to the larger tax reform push. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and other green-minded Democrats yesterday wrote to Baucus urging their extension (Greenwire, Dec. 16).