How About Some Energy Responsibility?

Bill Scher

At last week’s Apollo Summit, there was a clear consensus: businesses interested in renewable energy can’t risk long-term commitments unless our government makes long-term commitments.

In turn, many supported long-term tax credits to spur investment.

Right now, there are tax credits for the production of renewable energy. But they almost expired in December, when at the last minute, Congress extended them for another year.

That year-to-year uncertainty stunts long-term investment. Advocates are pushing for a five-year or ten-year extension, and leaders in Congress are supportive.

But in today’s Environment & Energy Daily, we learn that, “some observers say long-term extensions may be difficult due to fiscal constraints, especially as Democrats want to ensure that new spending is offset under pay-as-you-go budgeting.”

Because of that, key leaders are not yet committing to pass anything long-term.

The go-to tax people are Senator Max Baucus and Rep. Charles Rangel. Both stalled for time:

[Baucus] supports using the tax code to boost renewables. But he said in an interview this week that no decisions have been made about the shape of legislation this year. “It it going to be a little while yet” before the issue moves through his committee, he said. … [And] a committee spokesman for [Rangel] indicated the lawmaker is “still determining policy options” on energy.

This dithering is flat-out foolish.

It is not fiscally responsible to mindlessly adhere to a ledger sheet at the expense of job creation and environmental sustainability.

Yes, the fiscal picture is a mess, thanks to six years of fiscally irresponsible conservative goverment.

It won’t be fixed without major reform: tax reform to restore fairness, and health reform to provide universal coverage that keeps down cost.

That’s going to take some time, especially with President Bush’s veto pen firmly in place.

But our climate crisis is urgent. Immediate steps need to be taken. Empty half-measures are the epitome of irresponsible.

Either find the offset money, or make an exception for a critical long-term policy with an unclear price tag.

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