Senate digs into aviation bill as tax talks continue

Source: Geof Koss, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, April 8, 2016

The Senate Thursday afternoon began votes on amendments to the Federal Aviation Administration reauthorization bill amid discussions on a host of energy tax breaks sought by members of both parties.

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), ranking member on the Finance Committee, declined to discuss the negotiations but sounded a positive tone on extending the investment tax credit for sources such as biomass, geothermal and fuel cells, which lawmakers left out of last year’s spending and tax deal.

“There is now a clear recognition that this was an omission,” Wyden told reporters about the left-out energy sources. Last year’s deal extended the solar ITC for five years.

Wyden is said to be pushing extensions for biofuels and other energy breaks that also didn’t make the cut last year, but is facing growing opposition from conservative groups. He said he hoped the tax title would be ready for debate next week.

Heritage Action for America became the latest group to issue a “key vote” warningto lawmakers against “green subsidies” getting into the FAA bill. Americans for Prosperity also urged activists today to rally against the “green pork” breaks.

Despite conservative opposition to using the FAA as a vehicle for tax issues, Republicans are pushing for a number of energy incentives, as well.

Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) has filed an amendment that would “equalize” a break for diesel with liquefied natural gas for purposes of funding the Inland Waterways Trust Fund.

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) is aiming to extend the production tax credit for advanced nuclear reactors from 2021 to 2026. And pro-coal lawmakers on both parties want incentives for carbon capture and sequestration.