RENEWABLE ENERGY AND ENERGY CONSERVATION TAX ACT OF 2008 -- (House of Representatives - February 27, 2008)
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Mr. HOLT. Mr. Speaker, I rise today in support of H.R. 5351, the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008.
For the last 20 years, my colleagues in the scientific community have issued warnings that the release of greenhouse gases is altering the earth's climate in ways that are both expensive and deadly. It is well established that the climate change of recent decades can be attributed to the way we use energy. In fact, the greatest insult to our planet is the way we produce and use energy. This is one of the principle subjects that I have spoken about and worked on since I first ran for Congress, and it is one of the reasons, I believe, that my constituents sent me to Congress.
As an energy scientist, I know how much can be done technically to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and to slow the rate of climate change. Last year, Congress passed H.R. 6, the Energy Independence and Security Act, historic legislation that took the long overdue first steps toward addressing global climate change and addressing our long term energy needs. Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate removed a provision from the H.R. 6 that would have repealed billions in tax subsidies for oil companies and instead invested in the production of renewable energy. I am pleased that the House is reconsidering these important provisions today in H.R. 5351. If this legislation becomes law it will be a significant second step toward implementing a rational, sustainable national energy policy.
Today, consumers are paying more at the pump than ever before. My constituents in my Central New Jersey district are paying $2.95 at the pump, a 119 percent increase from what they paid in 2001. Gas prices throughout the country over the last two weeks have risen an additional 17 cents, and oil prices have reached a record high at $102 per barrel. While American families transportation and heating costs continue to rise, the five top oil companies posted record profits for 2007, and ExxonMobil posted the largest corporate profit in American history of $40.6 billion. At this time of record profits, oil companies are receiving huge government subsidies. It is past time that we reverse this failed policy which has only benefited big oil companies at the expense of American families and our environment.
The legislation before us today would eliminate the $18 billion in tax breaks that have been awarded to big oil. It will use this money to extend and expand tax incentives for renewable electricity, energy and fuel, as well as for plug-in hybrid cars, and energy efficient homes, buildings, and appliances. Specifically, it would extend existing tax credits for the production of renewable energy, including solar, wind, biomass, geothermal, hydro, landfill gas and trash combustion, as well as adding new incentives for the use and production of renewable energy.
My home state of New Jersey has been a leader in solar production, with over 2,400 solar installations in place and I am told that it has the fastest growing solar market in the United States. The extension of the solar energy tax credit through 2016 will help ensure that the use of solar will continue to proliferate in New Jersey. This will help New Jerseyans reach our goal of having 20 percent of the State's electricity come from renewable sources by 2020.
The renewal of these tax credits will also help to increase our economy by creating hundreds of thousands of jobs. According to a recent study, if the renewable energy tax breaks expire at the end of this year over 116,000 jobs in wind and solar industries would be lost in one year. Today, when the predicted economic growth forecast is an anemic pace of 1.3 to 2 percent and unemployment is likely to climb above percent, we in Congress should do everything we can to ensure job growth and preserve jobs.
Of course, this bill is not enough. If it becomes law it will be an excellent continuation of the work we began last year. Having passed this bill we will be able to continue to consider other alternative energy and climate change legislation, and I am confident that we will. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.
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