Senators Quietly Stick Green Energy Subsidies Into FAA Bill

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Michael Bastasch Contributor
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Senators from both sides of the aisle are trying to get an amendment into a bill reauthorizing the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) that would extend $1.4 billion in expiring green energy subsidies that weren’t included in last year’s budget deal.

South Dakota Republican Sen. [crscore]John Thune[/crscore] worked with Democratic Sens. [crscore]Bill Nelson[/crscore] of Florida and [crscore]Ron Wyden[/crscore] of Oregon to get lucrative tax subsidies for things like wind power, fuel cells and geothermal heat pumps much to the chagrin of conservative groups.

“We’re disappointed that consistent support exists among Senators to extend corporate welfare to the so-called ‘green energy’ industry. It’s unfortunate to see lawmakers sneak these provisions through the backdoor using unrelated must-pass measures — especially only months after extending major wind and solar subsidies in an end-of-year deal,” Christine Harbin, director of federal affairs at Americans for Prosperity, said in a statement.

Conservatives are furious with Thune and others who want another bill extending green energy tax credits after passing a massive $680 billion tax package in December that included a slew of green energy subsidies — including a $23.8 billion investment tax credit for building solar panels.

Republicans and Democrats hashed out a deal in December to lift the ban on crude oil exports in exchange for extending billions of dollars in soon-to-expire green tax credits. But Democrats now argue some green energy tax credits were accidentally left out of the bill, so now they need to be included in the FAA bill.

“No one intended to leave them out,” New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer said during a press conference Tuesday. “We’re working to get those in now.”

Thune said the green subsidies need to be included to smooth over Democratic concerns.

“This is what they’ve always viewed to be their best opportunity to get some of the things that were left out of last year’s extenders bill done,” Thune said Tuesday.

But conservative groups have risen up in opposition to the FAA bill. More than 30 groups signed onto a letter opposing green energy subsidies being attached to completely unrelated legislation regarding airline regulators.

“Rent-seeking businesses and lobbyist love crony capitalism, but voters are tired of seeing the Washington establishment pick winners and losers in the marketplace,” said Adam Brandon, CEO of FreedomWorks. “We urge senators to vote against any amendment that manipulates the market by allowing these tax breaks for a politically-connected industry to continue.”

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