Senate tax measure helps President Trump away from clean energy and return to fossil fuels –

Senate tax measure helps President Trump away from clean energy and return to fossil fuels


The Trump administration's campaign for "US energy dominance," which focuses on raising national production of fossil fuels, received a potentially huge boost from Republican senators on Saturday morning.

The fiscal measure they approved proposes opening the Arctic to oil and gas development, weakening investment incentives for solar and wind production and ending with a large tax credit for new electric vehicles.

Taken together, the fiscal provisions of the Senate are clearly aligned with the Trump administration's goal of changing US energy development to black fuels and reversing Obama's era programs to encourage cleaner technologies to generate electricity and move people and goods.

Arguably, the Senate's most important fiscal provision aims to tilt a 40-year conflict between the oil industry and conservationists toward the opening of a 1.5-million-acre stretch of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for the Energy exploration. The struggle in the so-called Area 1002, one of the longest and most intensely debated in the environmental history of the United States, has drawn the attention of all presidents since Jimmy Carter.

The Senate's decision to proceed with the exploration of oil and gas was hailed today by its main champion, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

"The opening of Area 1002 and the tax reform stand on their own, but by combining them in the same invoice and then successfully approving it, we achieve a great day to be an Alaskan," he said in a statement.

Democratic legislators and environmental groups responded with votes to keep the entire 19.3 million acre refuge undeveloped.

"This fight is not over The oil industry and its allies in Congress may think they can sneak out of this past of the American people, but communities across the country are talking every day, "said Jamie Williams, president of the Wilderness Society. "The drilling provision of the Arctic Refuge does not have a legitimate place on a tax bill, and this political agreement now threatens to destroy the crown jewel of our National Wildlife Refuge System."

The Senate proposal to explore energy in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is not included in the version of the fiscal measure pbaded last month. The two tax proposals will be reconciled by members of the House and the Senate this month. If it survives, the Arctic drilling plan would be another step in the Trump administration's effort to reverse Obama-era measures to slow the development of fossil fuels, reduce carbon emissions to the atmosphere and encourage generation and electric transport. more sensitive.

in the Senate bill are a boost to the White House's fossil energy initiatives. One would consider taxes on investment in credits for wind and solar plants as income and would impose a tax on them. The wind and solar developments are eligible for a 30% tax credit according to the legislation approved in 2015. The almost $ 50 billion invested annually in solar and wind projects in the United States have generated hundreds of thousands of jobs and have been helped by $ 12 billion to $ 15 billion in tax credit investments by multinational and other financial banks.

If the investment tax becomes law, it is likely that large investors will exit the US clean energy market, said Gregory Wetstone, executive director of ACORE, the American Council. in Renewable Energy, a commercial group in Washington.

"There is great renewable development in rural areas where there are not many other economic opportunities," Wetstone said. "They are doing exactly the opposite of the intention of this bill, which is to grow the economy and create jobs." With this bill, they reduce investment and hinder growth. "

A third provision in the Senate bill that seems destined to help the oil industry is the elimination of the $ 7,500 tax credit for electric vehicles.

Part of the president's development strategy is to simultaneously attack the clean energy plan of the Obama administration to reduce carbon emissions from coal, with broad support from rural Americans, conventional energy industries and Republican lawmakers, electric power plants, withdraw from the United States of the Paris climate agreement, open public lands in the west for development of coal, oil and natural gas, and approve two large oil pipelines crossing the Great P lains.

Each The administration's fossil energy measures have faced strong opposition from conservationists, state leaders, Native Americans and executives of clean energy and recreational industries. Federal lawyers have also begun to consider the merits of a flurry of lawsuits aimed at stopping the administration's "energy domination" campaign.

Behind the White House initiative is the conviction that large mines, oil pipelines and oil fields produce thousands of good jobs. Opponents point out, however, that the administration's support for the US fossil fuel sector comes when China, India, Europe and several Southeast Asian nations start doing the opposite, moving away from coal and, to some extent, of oil to grow economies and respond to the risks of climate change.

Solar companies, one of the fastest growing industrial sectors in the nation, are particularly concerned. Along with the Senate tax provision that weakens investment incentives, President Trump is evaluating a tariff on imported photovoltaic solar panels that executives say could paralyze the industry. The president has until the beginning of January to issue his decision.

"The president and Congress are ceding leadership in the growth segment of the energy industry to China and India as quickly as they can," said Niel Lawrence, Alaska program director and senior counsel for the Board of Directors. Defense of Natural Resources. "It will cost Americans in terms of employment and global stature and ultimately on the impact of climate change."

Follow Keith Schneider correspondent for the environment and public lands of the West, on Twitter. [19659002]

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