Following the release of a report by the Department of Energy that shows a renewable energy incentive program created tens of thousands of jobs, Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) challenged Speaker Boehner and other Republicans to support the development of American clean energy and end unnecessary tax subsidies for the biggest oil companies. Speaker Boehner and his colleagues recently questioned the effectiveness of the program, and Congressional Republicans have repeatedly attacked the jobs potential from America's clean energy entrepreneurs.
The report, conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) analyzed the impact of the Section 1603 Renewable Energy Grant Program. It found that upwards of 66,000 manufacturing and other supply-chain jobs were supported through the program; another 9,400 jobs were created in the design, development, construction, and installation of these energy projects; and more than 5,000 additional operation and maintenance workers will be employed keeping these projects running over the next 20 to 30 years. DOE's job estimates include only jobs resulting directly from the energy projects themselves and the industrial supply chains producing the equipment. The $26 billion to $44 billion in total economic output generated by these projects between 2009 and 2011 created an additional 54,000 induced jobs throughout the economy as well.
In his letter to Speaker John Boehner and Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Cliff Stearns (R-Fla.), Rep. Markey asks the Republicans to stop their attacks on clean energy programs, and to not raise taxes on the wind industry at the end of this year. Republicans have prevented the extension of the Production Tax Credit for wind energy, which actually supports putting electricity on the grid, creating new jobs. The energy-producing incentive is set to expire at the end of 2012.
"Supporting American clean energy businesses puts power in our homes and will make America an energy and manufacturing powerhouse for decades to come," writes Rep. Markey to Boehner, Upton and Stearns. "Many Republicans in Congress have been vocal supporters for continuing wasteful oil company subsidies, while at the same time pushing to raise taxes on wind energy. If that were to happen, upwards of 37,000 clean energy jobs would be eliminated around the country."
One example of unnecessary oil company subsidies protected by Republicans is the deduction for "geological and geophysical expenditures", which is the most recent tax subsidy that was given to the oil and gas industry in 2005 by a Republican Congress and President George W. Bush. This subsidy allows companies to deduct the costs associated with searching for oil over two years rather than seven years, which costs U.S. taxpayers $1.4 billion over 10 years. Other subsidies for the oil and gas industry--like the deduction for "intangible drilling costs"--are far more costly and have been around far longer. That tax break, which was instituted back in 1916, allows oil companies to write off certain costs immediately rather than over the life of the asset, as is customary for most companies. Since 1968, it has cost U.S. taxpayer $78 billion.
The letter notes that the positive impacts of the Section 1603 program extend beyond just jobs. According to the report, through November 10, 2011, the clean energy grants produced a total of 13,500 megawatts of new electricity. The federal investments also pulled $21 billion in investments off the sidelines from private, regional, and state sources.