Narrow tax title with green tweak seen in FAA measure

Source: Geof Koss, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, April 11, 2016

The Senate is aiming to pass legislation reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration by week’s end, with a key renewable energy tax break extension expected to be among the tax provisions.

Staffers are said to have spent the weekend drafting the measure’s tax title, which has been the subject of intense jockeying in recent weeks as one of the last must-pass bills of the year that offers a vehicle for changes to the tax code.

What exactly is in the tax title remains unclear, but energy lobbyists this weekend said they expect an extension of the 48C investment tax credit for geothermal, fuel cells, combined heat, and power facilities and other qualifying sources that were left out when the credit was extended for solar for five years in last year’s omnibus-tax deal. Details are expected as early as today, as Senate leaders look to wrap up the underlying bill this week.

Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and other senators have characterized the omission as an accident, and, along with Finance Committee ranking member Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), have been pressing to see a fix included in the FAA reauthorization (H.R. 636) (E&E Daily, March 18).

Wyden has also been pushing other renewable tax credits as part of the discussions, including several biofuel incentives that did not make it into last year’s tax deal. But lobbyists anticipate that other energy provisions would have to be added as amendments on the floor.

“Amendments are going to be a fight on the floor this week,” said one lobbyist yesterday.

The prospects for amendment votes are unclear, but a proposal addressing carbon capture storage is among those seen as in the mix (E&E Daily, April 6).

Pressure over the inclusion of renewable energy tax credits continues.

The Geothermal Exchange Organization, which for weeks has been pressing to see geothermal included in the extension of 48C, along with a separate extension for residential geothermal heat pumps under a different section of the tax code, on Friday urged its members to contact senators’ offices on the matter, citing a “short window” that ends today (E&E Daily, April 5).

From the other side, the conservative group Americans for Prosperity today will notify senators it plans to “key vote” the FAA measure if renewable tax credits are included.

“More than an issue about subsidies for green energy this is an issue about blatant cronyism,” states the alert. “Senators are using must-pass legislation to pass corporate welfare for special interests in industries unrelated to aviation security.”