Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) is taking aim at a proposal to extend a key renewable energy tax credit as part of a broader payroll tax cut package.
“I cannot think of anything that would derail more rapidly the consensus that is developing about extending the payroll tax cut than to do such a thing,” Alexander said during a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday.
Alexander was responding to reports that House and Senate negotiators could extend the production tax credit for wind power as part of a package to extend the payroll tax cut.
But Senate Democratic aides said that extension of expiring renewable electricity tax credits are unlikely to make it into the final payroll deal.
The senator criticized the tax cut, calling it an unnecessary subsidy for “big wind.”
He criticized President Obama and many Democrats for calling for the elimination of billions in oil-and-gas industry tax breaks, while supporting tax credits for renewables.
“I’m ready to reduce the subsidies for big oil as long as we reduce the subsidies for big wind as well,” he said.
Rather than extending the wind tax credit, Alexander called on policymakers to invest in nuclear power and energy research. The senator is a vocal supporter of expanded nuclear power.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) called on negotiators last week to extend the production tax credit as part of the payroll tax cut package.
“If we do not extend the production tax credit for wind by the end of the first quarter of this year, we will start to see lost jobs, slowed momentum and idled U.S. factories,” Bingaman said in an op-ed in The Hill.
The wind industry says an extension of the production tax credit, which provides a credit for each kilowatt-hour of electricity that is produced, is essential for wind power to flourish.
A study commissioned by the American Wind Energy Association, the wind industry’s trade group, says that expiration of the production tax credit could cost as many as 37,000 jobs. The tax credit will expire at the end of the year.
Ben Geman contributed to this story.
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