Bill Owens on Energy & Oil
Democratic Representative (NY-23)
Proponent's Argument for voting Yes:
[Rep. Young, R-AK]: The Americans suffering from $4 a gallon gas today must feel like they're experiencing a sense of deja vu. In 2008, when gasoline prices reached a record high of $4.11 per gallon, the public outcry forced Congress to act. That fall, Congress lifted the offshore drilling ban that had been in place for decades. Three years later, most Americans would likely be shocked to learn that no energy development has happened in these new areas.
Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Markey, D-MA]. In the first 3 months of this year, Exxon-Mobil made $10 billion off of the American consumer; Shell made $8 billion; BP made $7 billion. So what are these companies asking for? These companies are now asking that we open up the beaches of California, Florida & New England to drill for oil. People who live near those beaches don't want oil coming in the way it did in the Gulf of Mexico. Right now, those oil companies are centered down in the Gulf of Mexico. People are concerned because those companies have blocked any new safety reforms that would protect against another catastrophic spill. We have to oppose this bill because, first of all, they already have 60 million acres of American land that they haven't drilled on yet, which has about 11 billion barrels of oil underneath it and an equivalent amount of natural gas. This bill is just a giveaway to Exxon-Mobil and Shell.
Opponent's Argument for voting No:
[Rep. Waxman, D-CA]: This bill is a direct assault on the Clean Air Act. Its premise is that climate change is a hoax and carbon pollution does not endanger health and welfare. But climate change is real. It is caused by pollution, and it is a serious threat to our health and welfare. We need to confront these realities. American families count on the EPA to keep our air and water clean. But this bill has politicians overruling the experts at EPA, and it exempts our biggest polluters from regulation. If this bill is enacted, the EPA's ability to control dangerous carbon pollution will be gutted.
Congressional Summary:Amends the Internal Revenue Code to extend through 2016 the tax credit for electricity produced from wind, biomass, geothermal or solar energy, landfill gas, trash, hydropower, and marine and hydrokinetic renewable energy facilities.
Proponent's Comments (Governor's Wind Energy Coalition letter of Nov. 15, 2011 signed by 23 governors):Although the tax credit for wind energy has long enjoyed bipartisan support, it is scheduled to expire on Dec. 31, 2012. Wind-related manufacturing is beginning to slow in our states because the credit has not yet been extended. If Congress pursues a last minute approach to the extension, the anticipated interruption of the credit's benefits will result in a significant loss of high-paying jobs in a growing sector of the economy. We strongly urge Congress to adopt a more consistent and longer-term federal tax policy to support wind energy development, such as H.R. 3307.
The leading wind project developers and manufacturers are slowing their plans for 2013 and beyond due to the current uncertainty. The ripple effect of this slow down means reduced orders for turbines and decreased business for the hundreds of manufacturers who have entered the wind industry in our states. When Congress allowed the tax credit to expire in 1999, 2001, and 2003, the development of new wind installations dropped significantly, between 73% and 93%, and thousands of jobs were lost. Providing renewable energy tax credits in order to provide consistency with conventional energy tax credits is the right policy to move the nation forward in an energy sector that offers global export opportunities and the ability to modernize a segment of our electric production infrastructure.
Security in Energy and Manufacturing Act of 2011 or the SEAM Act of 2011 - Amends the Internal Revenue Code to expand the qualifying advanced energy project credit by allocating in 2011 $5 billion of grants or tax credit amounts to manufacturers of goods and components (other than for assembly of components) in the US that are used in alternative energy projects.
[Explanatory note from americanprogress.org]:
The SEAM Act provides financial assistance to US manufacturing companies that want to retool their factories for the clean energy economy. By promoting growth of the manufacturing sector, this legislation has the potential to create badly needed jobs that can put Americans back to work.
The SEAM Act goes a step beyond just providing more funding. It amends the existing terms of the funding to increase its effectiveness. The new Manufacturing Tax Credit would prioritize funding for companies that provide supplies over those that assemble goods. Drawing this distinction helps target support for companies that need it most. There's another benefit to supporting supply companies over assembly companies. Both types of companies promote economic development, but workers in the supply chain, such as tool and die workers, welders, and machinists, are generally paid more than workers in the assembly chain.
In addition to being an effective tool for economic recovery, the SEAM Act provides an example of a well-designed tax expenditure. More than 60% of federal support for the energy industry is now delivered via "tax expenditures"--government spending programs that deliver subsidies through the tax code via special tax credits, deductions, exclusions, exemptions, and preferential rates--and a recent hearing in Congress indicates that this trend is likely to continue. Problem is, many of these tax expenditures are questionable at best.
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