Clean Energy Tax Credits: $18B Won’t Break the Bank

So now that the Senate has finally approved the extension of the renewable energy tax credits, exactly how much money have we been fretting over for the last year? Of the $148.6 billion that the the entire bill is estimated to cost, approximately $18 billion is being put into renewable energy. Meanwhile, the Treasury is seeking $700 billion to bail out our failing financial institutions.

The investment tax credit will cost taxpayers a mere $1.942 billion over 10 years, and the production tax credit costs $5.8 billion over the same time. Carbon capture and sequestration will get $1.424 billion more and a carbon capture credit incentive system will get $1.119 billion, according to the Senate Finance Committee.

The oil and gas industry is partly footing the bill for the credits. The legislation rolls back tax breaks on domestic production and tightens taxes on income made overseas. While not happy about losing their tax breaks, the oil industry should be pleased that Democrats have thrown in the towel on trying to renew the ban on offshore drilling.

Democrats left the ban out of the annual spending bill because Republicans would have otherwise blocked it, effectively shutting down the government. With the provision out of the bill, our drilling policy will be decided under the next president, making the issue that much more central to this election.

Now, representatives in the House will have to vote on the amended bill. With time running out, Senator Harry Reid implored the House not to alter the bill and force another vote: “Don’t send us back something else,” Reid said in comments on the Senate floor addressed to the House, Bloomberg reports. “It will not pass. If they try to mess with our package, it will die.”

While it’s scheduled for a vote today in the House, it’s uncertain whether the bill will actually come up for debate. Between the need for a corporate bailout, the appropriations bill that is needed to keep the government running and the upcoming election, the energy issue could easily get bumped, but right now everything is still negotiable.