Energy & Environment

180 Democrats ask House leadership for clean energy assistance

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A group of 180 Democratic lawmakers penned a letter to House leadership asking for congressional action to help the “decimated” clean energy sector, which has lost hundreds of thousands of jobs amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

A vast majority of the chamber’s Democratic delegation wrote to Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) asking specifically for tax credits to be received as direct payments and a delay to a phase-down of renewable energy tax incentives.

“The current crisis has decimated the clean energy industry,” they wrote, citing analysis from last month that found nearly 600,000 clean energy jobs had been lost since the pandemic began. “Clean energy jobs are being lost at a rate faster than the national average, revealing COVID-19’s disproportionate impact on this vulnerable industry.”

“Investments in clean energy pay back dividends because of the breadth and geography that are impacted – either job losses will devastate the communities we represent, or economic relief for this sector will help them weather this crisis,” continued the letter, which was led by Reps. Reps. Mike Levin (D-Calif.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), and Matt Cartwright (D-Pa.). 

Hoyer told The Hill in a statement that he “strongly” supports “efforts to provide the clean energy sector with the resources it needs to keep workers on the job and I believe that investing in clean energy should be a key part of our economic recovery.”

“I will continue to work with my colleagues to put our country on the path to net-zero emissions and ensure this industry and its workers — like so many others — has the relief it needs as we weather this public health crisis,” he added.

The letter follows the House passage last month of a coronavirus stimulus package that did not include specific assistance for the sector, something that was criticized by environmentalists

“The $3T bill just released by the House contains many important priorities for the country, and though it includes a lengthy tax section, it unfortunately leaves out COVID-19 related assistance that could save clean energy jobs,” Sierra Club Legislative Director Melinda Pierce said in a statement at the time. 

Meanwhile, it’s not just Democrats who have pushed for assistance for the clean energy sector. 

Last month, Republican Sens. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska), Susan Collins (Maine) and Thom Tillis (N.C.) wrote to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asking for tax-related assistance for renewable energy projects. 

Shortly thereafter, the Treasury Department and IRS gave renewables more time to take advantage of certain tax credits. 

However, some members of the GOP have been critical of assisting the sector. 

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) in March, amid negotiations over an earlier stimulus package, accused Democrats of being “willing to extort a crisis to try to advance their political agenda” and argued that wind and solar tax credits do not have anything to do with the outbreak. 

Tags clean energy Earl Blumenauer Lisa Murkowski Matt Cartwright Mike Levin Nancy Pelosi Renewable energy Steny Hoyer Steven Mnuchin Susan Collins Ted Cruz Thom Tillis
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