The U.S. House of Representatives is set to vote on a bill that would strip the federal government's authority to regulate greenhouse-gas emissions - a GOP-led effort designed to thwart what Republicans call "Obama's war on coal."
The legislation - dubbed the Coal Miner Employment and Domestic Energy Infrastructure Protection Act - was introduced by Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Ohio, and would repeal many of the regulations established under the Clean Air Act.
Frustrated with the bill - which, if passed, could deal a huge blow to the renewable energy market - Reps. Earl Blumenauer, D-Ore., and Leonard Boswell, D-Iowa, on Wednesday each offered up an amendment to the bill that would extend the production tax credit (PTC) for wind and other forms of renewable energy.
In an obviously symbolic move, Blumenauer’s amendment strikes the text of the coal bill and replaces it with the text of a bill he co-introduced with Rep. Dave Reichert, D-Wash., last November that would extend the PTC for wind, biomass, geothermal, small irrigation, landfill gas, trash and hydropower through 2016.
Boswell also introduced a measure to extend the renewable energy tax credit through 2016, though it was presented as a new amendment unrelated to Blumenauer’s 2011 bill.
However, after considering the 20+ proposed amendments to the legislation, the House Rules Committee threw out the two PTC amendments, and they will not be considered for inclusion in the final legislation.
One pro-renewables amendment will be allowed to go up for debate. The measure, introduced by Rep. Ed Markey, D-Mass., would create a renewable electricity and energy efficiency standard. Similar measures have been proposed numerous times in the Senate by Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., but have never gained considerable traction.
The legislation will go up for debate on Thursday and is scheduled to be voted on this Friday. The bill expected to pass the House but is unlikely to get past the Democrat-controlled Senate. Even if it were to pass the Senate, the White House has threatened to veto the legislation, according to a report from The Hill.
Exemplified by the measures recently introduced by Blumenauer and Boswell, the looming expiration of the wind PTC is causing some congressional leaders to feverishly tack on PTC-extension amendments to any energy-related legislation up for consideration on Capitol Hill.
Last week, Markey introduced an amendment to the Republican-drafted “No More Solyndras Act” - a bill that seeks to terminate the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) loan-guarantee program - that would make the prohibition of new loan guarantees contingent on the extension of the wind energy PTC. The measure was defeated by a vote of 175-234.
Meanwhile, a one-year extension of the PTC for wind remains alive in an omnibus tax-extenders bill that has passed the Senate Finance Committee and awaits a vote by the full Senate. It remains to be seen when the vote will happen, but Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has said on numerous occasions that he wants to get the bill passed before the Senate breaks.
The bill also contains a one-year extension of the investment tax credit, which the offshore wind industry has said is critical to jump-starting development in the U.S.