Tuesday, September 30

Bailout Failure Brings Last Chance For Renewables

In Wall Street woes, a ray of hope for renewable energy

Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, offered new hope this morning that House Democrats might now be more open to compromise in the wake of the defeat of a $700 billion Wall Street bailout package, which sent the stock market plummeting more than 700 points.

Economic experts warn that millions of Americans could lose their jobs if a rescue plan doesn’t pass.

Clean energy "green-collar" employment studies have shown that somewhere between 100,000 and 200,000 U.S. jobs are at stake at a time when the economy is in a meltdown.

SolarCity's CEO Lyndon Rive said today “This is something that could create tens of thousands of jobs. The financial industry has collapsed, the construction industry has collapsed. The housing industry has collapsed. And solar is still growing. This will cause it to collapse … And if political leaders can’t see this, I can’t understand what they’re thinking.”

Most painfully for Democratic leaders, they hoped to count the renewable-energy tax breaks as a significant achievement of the 110th Congress, one that had passed the House in the "the first hundred hours" in January of 2007.

The four national renewable energy trade associations representing the geothermal, hydropower, solar and wind industries weighed in yesterday with a joint statement to Congress saying, "with hundreds of thousands of American jobs and billions of dollars in clean energy investment at risk, we urge Congressional Leaders not to leave for the election recess until a House-Senate agreement is reached on the pending tax extender package."

Leading Senate tax writer Baucus (D-Mont.) predicted that House Democrats might now be more amenable to compromise with Senate Republicans on funding, faced with the prospect of letting renewable energy tax breaks expire while the nation’s economy teeters on the brink of recession. There is no possible Senate Republican compromise, so it is entirely up to House Leader Steny Hoyer to move House Democrats in the direction of the successful Senate version passed last week with a 93-2 veto-proof majority.

“There are more dynamics in play now,” he said, speaking of how the bailout would affect negotiations on tax cuts. “Things are related.”

Indeed, by days end Tuesday the Wall Street Journal reported that on Wednesday night the new Wall Street omnibus bailout vote will include the Senate version of the renewable energy and other business tax credits extension.

Related stories:
Renewable Energy Bill Endangered As Congress Ends
House Fully Funds Renewable Energy Act, Possibly Sinking It
On 9th Attempt, Senate Passes Clean Energy Provisions

Via The Hill
Photo by Flikr user Visschman
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