The Spectacle Blog

Baucus’s Lame-Duck Renewables Ploy

By on 12.6.10 | 9:20AM

Cap-and-trade is said to be dead, and the general belief I'm hearing out of D.C. is that a national Renewable Electricity Standard (introduced in a bill co-sponsored by Democrat Sen. Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico and Republican Sen. Sam Brownback of Kansas -- who is also the state's Governor-elect) isn't going to happen during a lame-duck session either.

But according to the Washington Times, Montana Democrat Sen. Max Baucus plans a last-gasp effort to get through a few more stimulus dollars for alternative energy schemers before the Senate makeup changes for the worse:

In one sign of the times for wind-energy boosters, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, Montana Democrat, announced late last week that he will push immediately to extend two programs for direct federal subsidies and manufacturing tax credits for solar, wind and other renewable energy industries before the lame-duck session of Congress adjourns at the end of the month.

Mr. Obama's stimulus plan offered grants of up to 30 percent of construction costs to developers of wind farms, solar plants and other types of projects, an alternative to the traditional renewable-energy tax credit that has lost its attractiveness in the struggling economy.

Though many Republicans have supported renewable energy and the tax credits, they are mindful of the recent voter backlash about excessive government spending and the growing federal deficit. Key GOP lawmakers have expressed skepticism about Mr. Obama's stimulus program in general and its "green jobs" component in particular.

"The government is running out of money," Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said last week. "Constituents asked for job growth ... not for help to special-interest groups."

If there isn't enough opposition in the overall Senate, maybe South Carolina Republican Sen. Jim DeMint can muster his own blockade, as he promised.

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