Washington, D.C. [RenewableEnergyWorld.com] The U.S. House of Representatives passed the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax of 2008 (H.R. 5351) on Wednesday. The final vote was 236-182, with 11 members of the house not voting, and was largely split along party lines.
House Democrats spoke out in favor of the bill, saying that it will help push the U.S. toward energy independence. On the other side of the aisle, House Republicans spoke out against the bill, saying that it will do nothing more than single out America’s domestic oil industry with higher taxes that will hurt the economy and the pocket books of consumers.
“Let’s innovate, not mandate, and that’s exactly what this legislation is about — providing the incentives for the private sector to lead our nation to energy independence,” said Rep. F. Allen Boyd (D-FL) in a statment about the bill. “There is no doubt that ending our dependence on foreign oil and utilizing renewable energy sources will make our country and our economy stronger, and this bill gets us closer to those goals.”
H.R. 5351 will increase investment in clean, renewable energy and energy efficiency and will pay for that investment by tax breaks for traditional energy companies. It is similar to the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act (H.R. 2776) that passed the House as part of a bipartisan energy package in August 2007 but was stripped in order for the package to pass in the Senate.
“With 116,000 jobs and $19 billion in clean energy investment at risk from the looming expiration of the widely popular renewable energy tax credits, it is clear that prompt Congressional action on the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008 is essential to one of the fastest growing areas of the American economy,” said American Wind Energy Association Senior Director of Governmental & Public Affairs Gregory Wetstone.
The bill would extend through tax credits for newly built wind farms and other facilities that generate power from renewable sources such as landfills through 2011. The bill would also extend the 30 percent tax credit companies may claim for investments in solar and fuel cells through 2016. There would also be tax breaks for consumers buying plug-in hybrid cars and those building energy efficient homes.
“The bill extends and expands tax incentives for renewable electricity, energy and fuel, as well as for hybrid cars, and energy efficient homes, buildings, and appliances. It does not add to our deficit, but rather repeals $18 billion in tax subsidies for Big Oil companies. By strengthening our renewable energy sector, the bill will help create the next generation of good-paying, green collar jobs and bring down energy prices in the long term,” said a statement issued by Speaker of the House Pelosi, Rep. Rangel and Rep. Hoyer.