Pressure builds ahead of Senate extenders markup

Source: Geof Koss, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Senate Finance Committee is facing familiar pressure from interest groups over energy provisions as members await word on whether next week’s expected extenders markup will proceed.

Senators from both parties this week have indicated the markup may happen Tuesday, although a spokeswoman for Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said yesterday that nothing has been scheduled yet.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said yesterday that the package will largely mirror the extenders bill the panel passed in May 2014, known as the “EXPIRE Act.”

“There may be some tweaking of items, but it’s basically the items we’ve always dealt with,” she told E&E Daily.

That bill included a two-year extension of the renewable production tax credit but failed to see enactment. Instead, the PTC was extended retroactively for one year at the end of 2014 but expired just weeks later.

Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) this week told reporters that the PTC — as well as the dozens of other incentives at play — would get a two-year reprieve. “All of the 52 are extended for two years,” he said.

But the American Energy Alliance, which has led the charge against extending the PTC for years, is again working to drum up opposition.

It’s encouraging activists to contact Finance Committee members and urge them to oppose an extension, including by linking it to U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan.

“This subsidy reinforces the EPA’s Clean Power Plan, so any support for the PTC plays right into the administration’s climate agenda,” AEA spokesman Chris Warren said in an email yesterday.

The group is also circulating a document around Capitol Hill making the point, while another dissects PTC supporters’ past statements on the on-again, off-again credit.

The American Wind Energy Association joined with environmentalists and labor groups yesterday in urging the Finance Committee to extend the PTC, the investment tax credit and other clean energy incentives.

In a statement, AWEA said most Finance members “understand that PTC and ITC have helped create tens of thousands of jobs and attracted hundreds of billions of dollars in private investment to the U.S. economy. Wind power is gaining strength but in the context of tax extenders, this Congress must extend the PTC and ITC for the longest possible time to avoid pushing American wind power off a cliff.”