Reps. Blumenauer, McDermott, and Neal Highlight House Passage of New Direction Energy Policy

May 21, 2008
Press Release

Washington, D.C. – Today at a press conference, Reps. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Jim McDermott (D-WA), and Richard Neal (D-MA) discussed the Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act, H.R. 6049, which will create jobs, help working families, and move America towards energy independence. The bill passed by a vote of 263-160. 

Reps. Blumenauer, McDermott and Neal, all members of the Committee on Ways and Means, have been leaders on this legislation, which is a top priority for the New Direction Congress.  The Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act extends and expands tax incentives for renewable energy; retains and creates hundreds of thousands of green jobs; spurs American innovation and business investment; cuts taxes for millions of Americans; closes loopholes that allow hedge fund managers to hide billions in compensation in offshore accounts; and does so in a fiscally responsible way.

“Our nation needs to begin transitioning to a clean energy economy starting now,” said Congressman Blumenauer. “We all know what the high cost of gas is doing to American families and businesses, and today Congress is doing something to alleviate this pressure. Not only are we extending investment tax credits, but we are spurring innovation, creating jobs and reducing our reliance on foreign oil. This bill also includes new energy initiatives and incentives that I’ve pursued for years, including a tax credit for people to install wind turbines, an extension of the transportation fringe benefit to include bike commuters, and a carbon audit of the tax code. I truly hope that the president will not put our nation at risk or compromise American families by vetoing this important bill.”

The Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act makes key investments in the energy sources of the future and includes important tax credits to promote renewable energy production from wind, solar, geothermal, and other sources, many of which are set to expire at the end of the year. For example, the bill extends the wind energy production tax credit.

H.R. 6049 includes the following provisions introduced by Congressman Blumenauer:

An Investment Tax Credit for Small Wind Turbines offers an incentive for homeowners, farmers, and businesses to install wind turbines. This not only provides clean energy, but it generates added income. It is pro environment, pro business, and a smart way to diversify income. Specifically, the bill provides a tax credit of 30% of the cost of purchasing a small wind turbine. A single turbine can provide up to an additional $2,000-$4,000/year in farm income. This provision is based on H.R. 1772, which was introduced by Rep. Blumenauer in 2007.

The Commuter Benefit for bikers amends section 132(f) of the IRS code to include "bicycles" in the definition of transportation covered by fringe benefits. Included in the Ways and Means energy bill is a benefit of $20/month for those employees who bike to work, which is a clean, healthy and efficient mode of transportation. The provision is based on H.R. 1498, legislation introduced by Blumenauer earlier this year.

The Carbon Audit of the United States Tax Code by the National Academy of Sciences
would involve a review of the tax code to identify those tax provisions and policies that have the greatest influence on the generation of carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases and to estimate the magnitude of those effects. The study would evaluate the potential for changes in the tax code to reduce carbon emissions. The study will examine areas where the connection between the tax code and carbon emissions are obvious (e.g., energy taxation) and will consider areas where the connection between the tax code and carbon emissions may be less obvious (e.g., tax policies affecting urban development, which affect climate through travel demand and land-use change).