What's the Word On: Hybrid Cars
Q: What's your new proposal to promote fuel efficiency and alternative energy?
A: In keeping with my longstanding advocacy to pump up homegrown, renewable energy, I introduced a bipartisan bill in March that would encourage American businesses to buy fuel efficient, alternative energy vehicles. The driving force behind my bill parallels the president's emphasis on energy security during his State of the Union speech. America must invest in new technologies and diversify domestic energy resources. Using the federal tax code as a vehicle, my bill ultimately would help keep the nation's environment clean, accelerate efforts to diversify our petroleum-based energy dependence and strengthen national and economic security. By nurturing consumer demand for clean-burning vehicles powered by alternative energy, we can weaken the stranglehold that Middle East oil bears over the U.S. economy. And don't forget. High prices at the pump are taking a bigger bite out of people's budgets week after week. It is time to shift gears permanently in Washington and put America in the driver's seat when it comes to energy security. As chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I'm working to enact public policy that gives American consumers a better, affordable, more environmentally friendly choice each time they get behind the wheel. And the America's Business Choice is just one example.
Q: What tax incentives are you proposing?
A: My bill is modeled after a provision already in the federal tax code that allows business owners who purchase Sport Utility Vehicles (SUV), trucks or vans to take advantage of a tax break. It makes good policy sense to expand the tax credit to include fuel-efficient vehicles powered by alternative fuels. It would help steer the business community in the right direction to reduce energy consumption and cut energy costs. The current tax break allows business owners to deduct up to $25,000 for the purchase of a vehicle weighing more than 6,000 pounds. My bill would allow businesses to deduct up to $100,000 each year for the purchase of fuel-efficient, alternative energy vehicles. By making the purchase of these vehicles, including electric cars; hybrid cars that run on part-fuel, part-electricity; and those fueled by compressed natural gas a more affordable option, I hope to see a significant boost in the nation's transportation fleet running on clean-burning, alternative energy. For example, a small business entrepreneur looking to hire and expand her home cleaning business might choose to purchase hybrid vehicles for her crews and take advantage of the yearly expensing benefit up to $100,000. Or a pizza restaurant owner could rotate out his aging delivery fleet and replace it with hybrid vehicles to take advantage of my proposed tax incentive. My bill would give small business owners an affordable choice to go green. It's a good opportunity to put their transportation dollars where they can help make a difference to America's long-term energy independence and economic strength for generations to come. Small business owners fuel the lion's share of our nation's economic growth. Let's give them the keys to afford a fleet of new energy-efficient vehicles powered by alternative energy. By doing so, we can help grow the economy and do a favor for our environment. This proposal fits hand in glove with long-sighted economic and environmental policy for the 21st century.