Senate to Vote on Renewable Energy Tax Credits: But will McCain Show Up this Time?

  • Published on September 23rd, 2008

McCain has been absent 8 times this year for critical vote

[Update: On Tuesday afternoon, the Senate passed H.R. 6049 by a tally of 93-2. Senator John McCain, along with Senators Obama and Biden, did not record a vote on the tax credits.]

The U.S. Senate is scheduled to vote as early as Tuesday, on the Baucus/Grassley Amendment to H.R. 6049, legislation that would extend tax breaks for renewable energy production and energy-efficiency measures.

Negotiators hammered out the extensive tax package to continue investment credits for solar, wind, and geothermal energy. It also creates a new tax credit for purchasers of plug-in hybrid vehicles.

>>More on Senate struggles with renewable energy at RG&B

The Senate version of the measure, would spend $17 billion on energy tax incentives over 10 years and pay for those incentives by limiting some oil and gas company deductions, altering tax treatment of certain foreign oil-related income and raising the per-barrel tax by four cents over three years.

The Senate bill contains an extension of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy for an additional year. Also up for consideration is an extension of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), which has been the most significant federal incentive for small-scale rooftop solar. If the Senate passes the bill, it will quickly move to the House of Representatives where it will be voted on later this week. This could be that last opportunity this year for Congress to extend the tax credits.

Last December, McCain was the only senator who did not vote on a procedural motion that would have paved the way for an increase in taxes on oil and gas companies to pay for expanded incentives for alternative energy. The motion failed by one vote. McCain absence was especially astonishing considering he was already in Washington.

But McCain is not the only one to say one thing and do another when it comes to supporting renewable energy. Members in both houses of Congress have made a habit of saying they are committed to renewable energy and turning around and voting against. A recent piece by the folks at the Center for Public Integrity found that the pattern of that behavior was, in fact, quite striking.

Image credit: richardmasoner via flickr under a Creative Commons License

About the Author

is the founder of ecopolitology and the executive editor at LiveOAK Media, a media network about the politics of energy and the environment, green business, cleantech, and green living. When not reading, writing, thinking or talking about environmental politics with anyone who will listen, Tim spends his time skiing in Colorado's high country, hiking with his dog, and getting dirty in his vegetable garden.