Asked in the comments of No Banker Left Behind Passes - Oh, the OINK of it! if there was anything redeeming about the bailout, I went looking for some "silver lining." What with an additional 150 billion dollars of pork, there had to be something that will be of benefit to the little people, yes?
It turned out there were two things of a green nature added to the bailout by the Senate that will possibly help revolutionize our energy consumption and help our entire nation. Pork I can embrace!
The first is an issue near and dear to my heart - alternative energy. From the Wired blog network:
Included in the legislation Friday was a one-year extension of a tax break for wind energy production companies, and an eight year extension of a 30 percent tax break for residential and commercial solar installations.
"The bill is a major step in our long journey toward energy independence and ensures that solar energy will be a significant part of America's energy future," said the Solar Energy Industries Association president Rhone Resch in a statement. "This long-term extension of solar tax credits will create a domestic solar industry with hundreds of thousands of jobs while providing clean, affordable, carbon-free energy to millions of American families, businesses and communities."
The renewable energy industry had been fretting all year that members of Congress would adjourn without renewing the tax breaks, which company representatives said would have put a crimp in the industry's growth because they would have had a harder time obtaining financing.
I found the second green positive at Treehugger which reported credits for hybrid vehicles were tucked into the bailout. Interesting how they iced Toyota out:
The original "bailout plan" by Treasury Secretary Paulson was 3 pages long. The Senate version that was passed last night (H.R. 1424) is now 451 pages long and it has "sweeteners" for everybody and their dogs.
One of those is a plug-in hybrid vehicle tax credit that was probably first seen in some GM wet dream: "The credit is a base $2,500 plus $417 for each kWh of battery pack capacity in excess of 4 kWh, to a maximum of $7,500 for light-duty vehicles," up to $15,000 for vehicles weighting more than 26,000 pounds. Because the Chevy Volt has a 16-kWh battery pack, it would get the maximum credit. Read on for more details.
Bailing Out... GM?
But that's not all! Part of the big smile on GM's face is the provision that restricts the credit to vehicles with a battery pack with at least 4 kWh of capacity. This means that the first generation of Toyota plug-in hybrids, and probably many others, will be excluded.
It's a good thing they're setting a high standard for plug-in hybrids, but if they had wanted to encourage PHEVs in general, they could have had smaller credits for plug-ins with smaller battery packs.
When Will it End?
"Phaseout of the credit is to begin after the total number of qualified PHEVs in the US sold after 31 December 2008 is at least 250,000."
I am almost panting to buy a Chevy Bolt, so this maximum credit status is very good news.
Green Pork aside, I cannot forgive my Senators and Congressional Representatives for voting as they did. These two green initiatives should have been passed on their own, not as sweeteners for a rancid bill.
I updated No Banker Left Behind Passes - Oh, the OINK of it! with this information this morning, but it is the nature of OS that posts over 24 hours old are lost to the ether. So I repackaged it here in the hopes more folks would see it.
I believe we must agressively explore alternatives to oil and use our innovation and design skills to regain our place as world's unmatched technological leader in the areas that will save our future and the planet.