WASHINGTON — Colorado Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet last week was named chairman of the Senate Finance Committee’s panel on energy and natural resources, and as a first order of business successfully maneuvered to renew contentious tax cuts for the wind industry.
As chairman of the subcommittee on energy, natural resources, and infrastructure, Bennet now has jurisdiction over energy taxes and infrastructure spending and pledged to use his position to diversify the industry.
“As long as we insist on having an outdated tax code, we are going to have a hard time certifying that we have a set of policies and strategies that are relevant to the 21st century economy,” Bennet said in a statement. “This is not a debate of left versus right, but past versus future innovation.”
Bennet was successful Thursday in attaching the wind energy production tax credit to a package of other tax extenders that was passed by the full Finance Committee.
“This extension will boost Colorado’s diverse energy industry and help us remain competitive in the global and changing economy,” Bennet said.
Several wind energy developers and wind turbine manufacturing facilities are located in Colorado and employ thousands of employees, the senator noted.
However, the industry has come under criticism in recent years by environmentalists who say the turbines are killing tens of thousands of bird. Conservatives also argue that the fledgling industry is not economically feasible or reliable enough to replace more traditional forms of energy.
As chairman of the subcommittee, Bennet would also has influence on how taxpayer dollars are spent for construction and repairs on roads, bridges, dams, and energy infrastructure.
“I look forward to examining our tax code to ensure it adequately supports a diverse and cleaner energy portfolio and allows us to make crucial investments in our infrastructure to remain competitive in the global and changing economy,” Bennet said.