As some members of Congress work to find fixes for the federal budget deficit before December ends, Iowa Senator Chuck Grassley is calling for extending tax breaks on alternative or renewable energy. Grassley says tax incentives for industries like wind energy and cellulosic biofuels will expire at the end of 2012.
He says those industries bring good-paying jobs and are a big part of economic development in rural America. “In an economy where uncertainty reigns, we should be doing everything we can to give people certainty if we’re going to save jobs and grow jobs,” Grassley says.
“Extending the renewable tax incentives will do that.” Grassley, a Republican, says we saw first-hand in 2010 how the expiration of tax incentives practically destroyed a product line and created widespread turmoil and firings.
“When the biodiesel incentives expired, 10,000 jobs were lost as nearly the entire industry shut down,” Grassley says. “In addition, if a few critical incentives aren’t extended at the end of 2012, industries will see loss of jobs as the industry slows down.” If the wind energy tax incentives are allowed to expire, Grassley says he fears for the loss of 4,000 jobs in Iowa tied to manufacturing components for the wind industry.
Critics say the federal government should be trying to find places to cut spending right now, not offering tax breaks to industry.
“I accept people like that, it’s a legitimate argument,” Grassley says. “I can only ask in return, do you think we ought to have any alternative energy what-so-ever and do you think we ought to be relying upon just imported oil?”
He also asks, if the EPA won’t allow power plants to burn coal, what alternatives will be able to take its place? Grassley says if the ethanol industry hadn’t had government backing 30 years ago, it never would have developed.