Groups warn lawmakers against green tax breaks in lame duck

Source: Geof Koss, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, October 27, 2016

A coalition of conservative groups is pressuring House and Senate leaders to skip the end-of-year renewable tax extender ritual in the upcoming lame-duck session.

In a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), more than 45 groups reiterated their opposition to extending key renewable energy breaks in the closing weeks of the 114th Congress.

The letter pointed to lawmakers’ approving extensions of the production and investment tax credits in a broad bipartisan deal late last year.

“Congress considered the matter of expiring tax provisions less than one year ago,” wrote Americans for Prosperity, Freedom Partners, Americans for Tax Reform and others.

“The $680 billion package signed into law in December made some of these items permanent and allowed more than two dozen others to expire at the end of this past year,” said the groups, “laying the groundwork for comprehensive tax reform.”

The letter comes amid an expected lame-duck push to extend an assortment of other expiring or already-lapsed green tax breaks in the weeks after the election.

Democrats have been angling to fix what they call an error in last year’s deal. In exchange for lifting the decades-old crude oil export ban, many Republicans agreed to extend the production tax credit and investment tax credit for solar.

However, other qualifying ITC sources — including geothermal, fuel cells and small wind facilities — were not extended because of what Senate Democrats call an unintentional oversight.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has said McConnell had pledged to fix the mistake, and the Kentuckian last month signaled he was open to doing so in the lame duck.

But McConnell was noncommittal on other expiring energy tax breaks, saying he would “take a look” at them (E&ENews PM, Sept. 29).

The coalition today slammed the ITC extensions sought by Democrats.

“The $1.4 billion in expiring tax provisions currently under consideration — pertaining to wind power, geothermal heat pumps, fuel cell facilities, and combined heat and power (CHP) properties — are a distortion of the tax laws for special interests in the renewable energy industry and were wisely left out of this package,” the groups wrote, referring to last year’s deal.

“Government subsidies, loans, mandates, and tax policies regarding renewables have consistently failed to deliver on their promises of long-term job creation and economic viability. Americans deserve access to energy solutions that are affordable and reliable — ones that should be able to stand on their own in the marketplace.”

The signatories to today’s letter twice helped quash earlier attempts to extend renewable tax breaks as part of the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization debate earlier this year (E&E Daily, June 23).