Democrats may not be in charge in either the House or Senate, but that’s apparently not stopping them from introducing new legislation. Today (Sept. 22) Senate Democrats introduced a new bill to the Senate Finance Committee that would reduce emissions from energy generation in the U.S., reduce subsidies to fossil fuel companies and incentivize renewable energy.
With both houses of Congress controlled by Republicans the bill has no chance of passing, but it does show how Democrats would focus on energy policy if they are able to win back control of the Senate in 2016. The bill was introduced to the committee by Sen. Maria Cantwell (WA) and supported by Harry Reid (NV), Charles Schumer (NY) and Ron Wyden (OR). The bill is an attempt to help woo young voters in the 2016 election cycle.“By tackling energy efficiency in sectors ranging from trucks and buildings to the electric grid, we are targeting our best opportunities for job growth, consumer savings and carbon dioxide reductions,” Cantwell said.
The bill would extend the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) through Dec. 31, 2017 and reinstate the production tax credit (PTC) through the same date. They would be extended while new, long-term incentives come in to replace them.
“The tax code plays an enormous role in energy policy, but the current system is a crazy quilt of laws that suffocates innovation,” Wyden said. “This bill is built around the proposition that the law ought to reward clean energy with incentives that spark innovation in the private economy. Our proposal makes it possible to get more clean, renewable energy for less money.”
The bill contrasts with a fossil-fuel friendly bill Republicans are trying to pass. “This bill…is a refreshing reprieve from the tired Republican mantra of ‘drill baby, drill’,” said Schumer. “That’s a slogan, not an energy policy. Republicans need to wake up to the fact that climate change is one of the defining challenges of our time and action must be taken to address it.”
The bill was heralded by the renewable energy industry. “By providing long-term, steady federal tax and energy policy, this legislation provides the stability that businesses in the solar industry need to grow—adding tens of thousands of new, well-paying solar jobs across the country, which today includes more than 174,000 Americans,” said Solar Energy Industries Association President and CEO Rhone Resch. "We also applaud the inclusion of programs that remove barriers for low-income Americans, making it easier for everyone to access clean, affordable, reliable solar energy."
The Senate Finance Committee found that the legislation would support the American economy. It would save U.S. residents at least $20 billion over the next 15 years and create/support at least 3.5 million jobs.
“We are delighted to see Members of Congress listening to their constituents, recognizing how crucial it is for America to maintain policies that are effective at creating jobs and producing clean, domestic energy,” Resch said.Tweet