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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Incentives for green energy a good move

With oil prices continuing their upward climb and the increasingly bleak forecast surrounding the overload of greenhouse gases on our environment, it should be clear that the nation needs to aggressively move toward renewable energy.

So it's disturbing that some Republicans in Congress are willing to let tax credits for clean, renewable energy including solar and wind power expire over a tax loophole for multimillionaires.

Tucked in the U.S. House bill on tax incentives is $20 billion in tax credits for solar, wind and geothermal power. Those incentives are not only sensible, but they're sorely needed, considering the steep costs of getting these projects off the ground.

Hawai'i, which is moving along the path on all three of these green energy fronts, is well positioned to lead the way.

While the bill managed to clear the House with a 263-160 vote, its future in the Senate is unclear. Beyond that, it faces the threat of a veto and the lack of votes to override.

Some Republicans object to the fact that the tax credits would be offset by freezing a tax break for companies with foreign operations, which had been set to take effect next year, and by no longer allowing hedge-fund managers to shift money to offshore banks. They also argue the bill does not address shielding taxpayers from the alternative minimum tax.

Those are not solid reasons to hold up the bill. Fighting to retain perks and loopholes for multimillionaires is certainly a tough sell, as millions of Americans are coping with higher energy costs, worrying how to pay their electric bills.

"Energy independence is an economic issue; it's an urgent national security issue; it is an environmental and health issue; and it is a moral issue to care for our planet," U.S. Rep. Neil Abercrombie said, in supporting the bill. He's right.

One hope lies in the November election, and that the incoming administration will set its sights on sensible solutions to America's over-dependence on oil, and the promise of a green energy future.