Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Op-Ed: Extend Federal Renewable Energy Tax Credits

By Ed Perry, National Wildlife Federation

Within the next few weeks, Congress will consider initiating and extending tax benefits to encourage the development of the only industry that is at the forefront of tackling the climate crisis, the fledgling renewable energy industry.
Our government has a long history of assisting new initiatives in medicine and science, the electrical grid, railroad system, waterways for barges, the interstate highway system, the internet, flood control systems, and the fossil fuel industry.
Unfortunately, the renewable energy industry struggles to survive because the government continues to give massive support to the fossil fuel industry.
A recent report from the International Monetary Fund shows that in 2017, the United States subsidized the coal, oil and gas industries to the tune of $649 billion. Unlike other studies, this one accounts for the enormous damage fossil fuels have caused to air, land and water resources.
In Pennsylvania, a 2015 report by PennFuture found that in 2013, taxpayers provided $3.2 billion in tax breaks to the fossil fuel industry, but that cost does not include natural resource damages.
It’s hard to justify continuing to subsidize an industry that causes enormous environmental damage, especially to the climate, when we can supply our energy needs with clean, renewable energy.
Hopefully, some in Congress will, by the end of this year, consider extending and expanding tax credits for energy storage, energy efficiency, solar energy, electric vehicles and carbon capture.
Transportation is the largest source of carbon pollution and cars and pickups are responsible for 60 percent of that. Using the tax code to incentivize electric vehicles will give our families better choices and help cut carbon pollution.
Electric vehicles are not only cheaper to run, they are also cheaper to maintain. No more oil changes, spark plugs, oil changes, catalytic converters, mufflers, and on and on.
We need to make energy storage a priority, so that when the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine, we will have power to spare. 
Power companies in Florida and Arizona have decided to forgo new gas-fired plants. Instead, they are building battery storage that will provide instant power for thousands of homes. 
Florida Power states that its plan will save customers more than $100 million and eliminate 1 million tons of carbon pollution.
Intelligent tax incentives can make this happen around the country.
The tax extenders package also supports the 30 percent tax credit for solar systems, assistance for farmers to plant trees, and funding for energy efficiency.
The only impediment is the power of the fossil fuel industry that spends hundreds of millions each year to defend its tax advantages.
This is going to continue until we all support only candidates who understand the threat the climate crisis poses to our way of life.
We have no time to lose.

Ed Perry is PA Climate Change Campaign Outreach Coordinator for the National Wildlife Federation.  He can be contacted by sending email to:
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[Posted: November 27, 2019]

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