Monday, April 14, 2008

Dear Speaker Pelosi: Food Riots and Renewable Energy Tax Credits

If the holdup on the renewable energy Investment Tax Credit and Production Tax Credit is the budget, why not revisit the ethanol subsidies?

From the International Herald Tribune:

...Before the Senate's provision can become law, however, the House must also pass the measure -- something which could prove tricky if the issue of the budget is raised.

Currently, the amendment does not specify how the PTC, and other incentives included in the legislation, will be paid for, said Ciaran Clayton, spokesman for Sen. Cantwell, co-sponsor of the PTC amendment. The Joint Economic Committee estimates the entire amendment will come at a price tag of close to $6.6 billion.

"The hope right now is just to get it passed in the next one to two months," Clayton told UPI. "(But) if the House feels they need to find a way to pay for this, it could be difficult."

In fact, unless House leadership decides to bypass the PAYGO provisions reinstated by the democrats at the beginning of 2007, representatives will be forced to decide where the money's coming from before they pass the measure

The amendment already lost some votes in the Senate over the issue, including those of some renewable-energy supporters like Sen. Robert Byrd, D-W.Va.

"(Byrd) is a big proponent of PAYGO," said Bette Phelan, communications director for Byrd. "He does support energy tax cuts, but he believes they need to be paid for."...

From the Wall Street Journal story "Food Inflation, Riots Spark Worries for World Leaders":

World Bank President Robert Zoellick warned in a recent speech that 33 countries are at risk of social upheaval because of rising food prices. Those could include Indonesia, Yemen, Ghana, Uzbekistan and the Philippines. In countries where buying food requires half to three-quarters of a poor person's income, "there is no margin for survival," he said....

..."When millions of people are going hungry, it's a crime against humanity that food should be diverted to biofuels," said India's finance minister, Palaniappan Chidambaram, in an interview. Turkey's finance minister, Mehmet Simsek, said the use of food for biofuels is "appalling."...Read it all.