Republicans’ new tax bill targets clean energy industry

Deal-breaking tax plan jeopardizes tens of thousands of jobs today, millions in the future.

CREDIT: AP/Charlie Riedel, File
CREDIT: AP/Charlie Riedel, File

Republicans’ long-awaited tax bill, unveiled on Thursday, targets key renewable energy tax credits that have helped make clean energy a crucial high-wage job-creating sector in the United States.

The measure would slash the wind Production Tax Credit (PTC) by over a third, weaken the solar tax credit, and eliminate the $7,500 credit for the purchase of electric vehicles. The solar and wind credits were part of a major bipartisan deal reached in December 2015, in which the credits were extended for several years while being reduced or phased out over time.

“This proposal reneges on the tax reform deal that was already agreed to, and would impose a retroactive tax hike on an entire industry,” said American Wind Energy Association CEO Tom Kiernan in a statement. “The House proposal would pull the rug out from under 100,000 U.S. wind workers and 500 American factories, including some of the fastest growing jobs in the country.”

President Donald Trump called the tax bill, which he asserted will be enacted before years end, a “big, beautiful Christmas gift.” It is definitely a gift to the richest one percent of Americans, who get most of the tax cut. And it’s a big tax cut for the most powerful multinational corporations — as well as wealthy foreign investors.


But for the average American, it is a big lump of coal. Ninety-five percent of taxpayers would barely see their average after-tax incomes increase, as ThinkProgress’ Rebekah Entralgo has reported.

As for longer-term impacts, the plan would cut billions of dollars in incentives for  the biggest new source of sustainable high-wage employment in the world: clean energy. And many of those jobs in red states.

In contrast, China will be investing $360 billion in renewable generation alone by 2020, which Beijing calculates will employ more than 13 million people. And while we are cutting back support for electric cars, China, India, and much of Europe are planning to ban non-electric cars in the next decade or two, even as they ramp up investment.

Based on their trickle-down theory, the GOP calls its plan the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act.” But unless you’re among the wealthiest few, you won’t be seeing a tax cut — nor will you be seeing millions of high-wage clean energy jobs opening up.


You will be seeing and breathing more dirty air, though, since the tax cut would amplify the administration’s pro-pollution, pro-coal policies by undermining two of coal’s biggest competitors, solar and wind.

Merry Christmas.