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House Committee Releases Tax Bill to Extend Electric Vehicle, Wind, and Solar Handouts

In what amounts to the tax component of the Green New Deal, the House Ways and Means Committee released a draft of its “Growing Renewable Energy and Efficiency Now (GREEN) Act” (summary available here). This draft contains tax credits for a long list of alternative energy-related technologies unable to compete otherwise.  
 
This includes extensions of the tax credits for wind and solar, though many members voting for the previous extension of such tax credits in 2015 had promised that it would be the last one. Beyond wind and solar, the bill also includes tax credits to many other technologies like fuel cells, combined heat and power, geothermal, and energy storage. 
 
The bill also extends the electric vehicle tax credit, which had been capped at the first 200,000 such vehicles per automaker, to 600,000 vehicles. The change means that another 400,000 new electric vehicles from each company will be eligible for tax credits of up to $7,000 each. This tax break is especially beneficial for Tesla, which had reached the 200,000 vehicle limit, and General Motors, which is nearing it. The draft also includes first-ever tax credits for those buying used electric vehicles, as well as a new one for “zero emissions” big trucks weighing over 14,000 pounds.
 
On renewable fuels, the bill would renew the $1.00 per gallon tax credit for biodiesel, mostly made from soybeans and animal fats. The credit is scheduled to phase down to 33 cents per gallon in 2024 and then expire—though few expect this to happen. The Renewable Fuel Standard already requires that a certain amount of biodiesel be added to the diesel fuel supply, but without the tax credit its much-higher cost relative to conventional diesel would be more noticeable to consumers. 
 
In addition to these and other tax breaks, the bill ominously requires “the Secretary of the Treasury to assess and report on the utility of the data from the Environmental Protection Agency’s Greenhouse Gas Reporting Program for determining the amount of greenhouse gases emitted by each taxpayer for the purpose of imposing a fee on such taxpayers with respect to such emissions.”  
 
On the educational front, the bill provides fully $1 billion annually in tax credits to support college-level “environmental justice” programs, described as programs designed to address, or improve data about, “environmental stressors” affecting the “health and economic outcomes” of individuals residing in “low-income areas or areas populated disproportionately by racial or ethnic minorities.”