(WASHINGTON, D.C.)—More than 100 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, including Rep. Jamie Raskin, signed a letter delivered today to House Ways and Means Chairman Richard Neal calling for his committee to take up legislation to provide long-term certainty for a slate of clean energy tax incentives that would help combat the growing climate crisis and support American jobs in growing clean energy industries. The letter was led by Paul Tonko, Chairman of the Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Environment & Climate Change, and several leading first-term members including Haley Stevens, Chair of the House Science, Space & Technology Subcommittee on Research & Technology andRepresentatives Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, Jason Crow and Mike Levin.
The authors write in part: “[W]e would encourage the Ways and Means Committee to continue tax incentives for clean-energy technologies in order for the United States to remain on track to meet its commitments under the Obama Administration to the Paris Climate Accords.”
A full list of the policies being called for are included in the text of the letter below.
Dear Chairman Neal,
As the Committee develops its agenda for the 116th Congress, we’re encouraged by the call to address our nation’s infrastructure as one of the new majority’s top priorities. There is strong, bipartisan agreement that we need to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure. From investments in transportation, harbors, ports and waterways to water systems and broadband, prioritizing infrastructure will help improve the health and welfare of millions of Americans and support good paying jobs.
An infrastructure package also marks an important opportunity to address the serious threat of climate change. A growing body of scientific evidence confirms this point. The latest report by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the latest installment of the U.S. Government’s National Climate Assessment (NCA) both paint increasingly alarming pictures of the immediate and long-term consequences of climate change if we fail to act.
The costs of inaction are significant. The IPCC report estimates that a 1.5°C increase global temperatures will cost $54 trillion in today’s dollars. Similarly, the Trump Administration’s NCA estimates that climate change could slash up to 10 percent of gross domestic product by the end of the century, more than double the losses of the Great Recession a decade ago.
In the United States, the costs of natural disasters associated with a changing climate are on the rise. More frequent and severe wildfires, storms and droughts are costing taxpayers billions of dollars. 2017 was the costliest year on record for natural disasters. Hurricanes, droughts, and wildfires, all exacerbated by climate change, cost the U.S. economy at least $300 billion.
With these latest climate reports in mind as well as our shared interest in developing a thoughtful, comprehensive infrastructure package to support economic growth and address some of the most pressing challenges facing the country, we ask that the Ways and Means Committee not miss this opportunity to support the develop of clean energy technologies. Simply put, investments in clean energy will help the U.S. reduce carbon pollution, prepare our communities for the damaging effects of rising sea levels, severe weather and catastrophic wildfires, all the while supporting innovation and job creation positioning the US to lead in a global clean energy economy.
Right now the U.S. tax system has over forty provisions that provide billions in subsidies, which are overly complex and provide different subsidies to similar technologies, many with no discernible rationale. It continues to provide permanent subsidies to polluting industries while leaving clean, renewable energy companies in the lurch, year after year. It has been over ten years since either tax-writing Committee has enacted legislation to in the clean energy area. We should examine the existing provisions and explore ways to streamline them to be simpler and encourage increased efficiency and performance. These changes would drive investment and innovation in clean electricity, clean transportation, and energy efficiency – growing the economy and keeping costs low for consumers while accelerating the transition away from fossil fuels and improving our chances of seriously addressing climate change.
Absent bipartisan agreement on those comprehensive changes to our tax code, we respectfully request that your Committee include the following clean-energy tax policies in any upcoming tax legislation, including a possible infrastructure package:
- Continued incentives for wind and solar energy to continue to help the country transition to 100% clean energy. Such continued incentives should ensure a level playing field for both technologies. We would also encourage the Committee to consider allowing for the transferability of existing tax credits to other project partners as well as providing targeted incentives for more nascent technologies, such as offshore wind.
- Support further deployment of Section 45 renewable energy resources by restoring and continuing the credits that expired at the end of 2017.
- Investments in zero and low carbon technologies for homes and businesses alike, such as an extension of the Section 25D and Section 48 investment tax credits (ITC).
- Clarify the tax code for energy storage technologies, which are critical for the continued deployment and expansion of intermittent, clean energy technologies, such as wind and solar, and help modernizing the electric grid to make it more efficient and resilient.
- Provisions to encourage cleaner modes of transportation, including tax incentives to continue to accelerate greater market penetration of electric vehicles and alternative fuel vehicles, such as the 30D and 30B credits. Under the current structure, several manufacturers have reached or will soon reach the 200,000 vehicle cap. We encourage the Committee to revise the per-manufacturer cap limitation in order to encourage greater adoption of alternative fuel vehicles in the marketplace. As well, the Committee should also include incentives for electric vehicle and alternative fuel charging/refueling infrastructure, such as the 30C credit, and additional policy changes to encourage such infrastructure at residential, commercial and industrial sites.
- Provisions encouraging energy efficiency, including performance-based tax incentives for new and existing homes and commercial buildings (which account for 40 percent of emissions), such as 25C or 179D.
- Policies and incentives to reduce industrial emissions, which accounts for more than twenty percent of our greenhouse gas emissions, including inclusion of waste heat to power technologies in the investment tax credit.
- Provisions to support the use of different fuels for home heating, such as biomass and wood pellet stoves. Such provisions could help rural areas switch to more renewable sources of energy while providing additional markets for our nation’s forest products industry.
- Lastly, we would encourage the Committee to support policies to continue to develop the next generation of biofuels and associated infrastructure to help further reduce emissions in the transportation sector.
We are cognizant that Congress last extended many of these clean-energy tax credits with the understanding that they would eventually begin to be phased out. However, for many of us who served in 2015 when that bipartisan, bicameral agreement was reached, the facts on the ground have now changed demonstrably. The latest extension and phase-out of these clean-energy tax credits were intended to serve as a bridge to the implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), among a suite of other regulations and policies to reduce carbon emissions. This is no longer the case. The Trump Administration’s efforts to undermine the CPP and other commonsense safeguards for new and existing power plants, relax fuel economy standards for cars and trucks, curtail potent methane emissions, and withdraw the United States from the Paris Climate Accords have fundamentally altered the framework by which the 2015 agreement was reached. As such, we would encourage the Ways and Means Committee to continue tax incentives for clean-energy technologies in order for the United States to remain on track to meet its commitments under the Obama Administration to the Paris Climate Accords.
We appreciate your consideration of this request, and look forward to working with you and other Members of the Committee to advance common sense legislation that invests in home-grown clean energy.