tax_incentives_email.jpgBy Barbara Kessler

While some global warming activists despaired over Congress’ failure to launch the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act last week, the We Campaign (founded by Al Gore and comrades to promote action against global warming) forged ahead.

We sent out an email Monday urging supporters to sign a petition to get Congress to pass another piece of legislation – not as sweeping, but also aimed at ameliorating global warming. The petition urges Congress to renew tax incentives for clean energy so that the United States can continue to build green energy companies and support workers transitioning to green jobs like foundry workers featured in the email.

Jerry Hammerschmidt and Ken Runge work at the Hodge Foundry in Greenville, Pa., building components for the wind turbines used in wind power, which “is critical to reducing America’s dependence on dirty fossil fuels,” says We CEO Cathy Zoi in the appeal.

But Jerry and Ken’s jobs, like thousands of others, are at risk unless Congress renews clean energy incentives, she writes.

These incentives have been lurking around, waiting for renewal for months. They failed to get Senate approval at a couple junctures. Lawmakers, mostly Republicans, didn’t want to fund them by taxing oil companies, or anyone else.

Now the House has passed a bill that would renew the credits and pay for them by dinging hedge fund profits, but the Senate is, well – the same body that just maneuvered around, delayed and finally voted down the Climate Security Act.

Will the Senate see the clean energy tax bill differently? It is not all-encompassing like the omnibus Lieberman-Warner which would have set up a carbon fee system, but it supports businesses large and small try to find energy solutions. Companies from Boeing to Brother Joe’s energy start-up have a stake in it; the tax incentives would help enterprises ranging from the Pennsylvania wind turbine makers to the Texas turbine installers to the entrepreneurs in the Silicon Valley refining solar power materials.

Some of the clean energy credits also are aimed at regular folks, who could get tax credits for improving the energy efficiency of their homes.

Supporters tout the credits as economy-boosting, as well as a way to begin fighting carbon emissions. They worry that without the tax credits, many of which expire at the end of 2008, clean energy businesses will founder and investors will waver.

They say businesses need these tax credits as they scale up. As the San Jose Mercury News opined: “Installing solar panels and building wind turbines requires big upfront investments and long-term planning to be effective; incentives can’t be stop and go.”

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