Bills floated to promote renewables, GHG reductions

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, May 30, 2014

Several bills introduced in the House yesterday aim to promote renewable energy development or address climate change, although it’s unlikely that any will be taken up soon in the GOP-controlled lower chamber.

Rep. Jim McDermott (D-Wash.) offered a pair of bills yesterday to extend clean energy tax breaks and reintroduced legislation to implement a cap-and-dividend program that has struggled to gain traction.Separately, a bipartisan pair sought to expand a tax credit for small-scale wind projects, although Congress remains stuck on broader tax debates amid procedural spats in both chambers. Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) and Tom Cole (R-Okla.) say their bill would help align a tax credit for distributed wind systems with the prevailing definition used by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The “Rural Wind Energy Development Act” would allow wind farms up to 20 megawatts to qualify for the 30 percent investment tax credit, rather than limiting eligibility to turbines less than 100 kilowatts, according to a press release.

One of McDermott’s bills, H.R. 4753, would extend a variety of clean energy tax credits to promote renewable electricity, electric vehicles and other causes, while eliminating tax incentives for oil companies.

McDermott also reintroduced his cap-and-dividend bill, H.R. 4754. It would require the Treasury secretary to charge large emitters a fee for their greenhouse gas emissions and return the proceeds to taxpayers. The fee would be tied to a goal of reducing total emissions to 80 percent below their 2005 level by 2060, according to a summary of the version introduced last session.

Also yesterday, California Rep. Jared Huffman (D), formerly an attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council, introduced legislation to prevent the U.S. Export-Import Bank from funding fossil fuel projects worldwide that don’t comply with upcoming U.S. EPA greenhouse gas emission standards.

The Export-Import Bank, meant to promote trade, has already enacted a policy to limit funding for coal plant projects that don’t capture their greenhouse gas emissions.

But a rider in this year’s spending bill added temporary restraints to the new Ex-Im Bank policy. And pro-coal lawmakers have introduced proposals to undo other U.S. financing limits for coal plants abroad.