Oceans & Forests Blog

Friends of the Earth statement on Sen. Baucus’ proposed energy tax reform

Posted Dec. 18, 2013 / Posted by: Kate Colwell

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Chairman of the Finance Committee Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) released his draft discussion plan for energy tax reform. In response to the proposal, Friends of the Earth President Erich Pica issued the following statement:

"I welcome Senator Baucus' proposal to reform energy taxes by decarbonizing the tax code. The tax code is one of the most powerful economic and policy tools at Congress’ disposal, and it should be a key driver for fundamentally transforming the country's energy infrastructure, making it cleaner and greener. Senator Baucus rightfully recognized the need to bring coherence to the currently haphazard system of energy tax provisions.

“While the desire to create a less carbon-intensive energy sector is admirable, the devil is in the accounting details. No system that relies on carbon accounting can be effective if the numbers aren’t right. Real questions about the carbon accounting for biomass and natural gas exist.

“Using a carbon intensity standard as the only litmus test for energy tax incentives ignores the other damages caused by energy products. The tax code should only be used to promote energy technologies that are truly clean, safe and carbon-free. Nuclear power, natural gas and carbon capture and sequestration should not be a part of our energy future, but will likely qualify under this standard.

“It is well acknowledged that energy efficiency is the quickest, cheapest and cleanest way to reduce our carbon emissions. Unfortunately, Senator Baucus’ proposal focuses entirely on reducing emissions from energy production while eliminating incentives for energy efficiency. Similarly, we need to empower individuals and small businesses, not just large utilities, to be part of the solution. These are steps in the wrong direction and we look forward to working with Senator Baucus to address these deficiencies.

“Finally, Senator Baucus missed the opportunity to propose the biggest step we can take towards reducing emissions when he failed to put a price on carbon pollution. It is simply not enough to create incentives to build new clean energy infrastructure if we also leave the existing infrastructure in place.”

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Contact:
Ben Schreiber, 202-222-0752, bschreiber@foe.org
Adam Russell, 202-222-0722, arussell@foe.org

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