I support an “all of the above” approach to solving America’s energy challenges. We should invest in new energy sources and strengthen established ones as we work towards energy independence. By doing this, we can create jobs, strengthen our national security, improve the environment and combat climate change.
Clean energy can be to the 21st century what coal, oil and gas were to the 20th century. Our district is already an energy leader. We need to build on these advances because renewable energy and all the jobs that come with it – jobs in construction, design, development, engineering, maintenance, and manufacturing – can be the foundation of our economy for generations to come.
By developing new sources of energy we can also reduce our reliance on foreign oil. Many of the countries from whom we import oil are not our allies and do not share our values. Our dependence on foreign oil has decreased in recent years, but it still makes up a large portion of our trade deficit. America spends more than $200,000 per minute on foreign oil. More than $25 billion a year goes towards Persian Gulf imports. Becoming more energy independent will make our nation safer and less dependent on other nations.
Solving our energy challenges cannot be a partisan effort. Whether you’re a Republican or Democrat, we all need to turn on the lights and get to work. We all need to breathe clean air and drink clean water. That is why I am working on a number of bipartisan efforts in Congress that will create energy jobs and move us closer towards energy independence.
Renewable Energy and Greening the Tax Code
As a member of the Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Caucus and co-chair of the Ways and Means Energy Tax Reform Working Group, I am working on policies that encourage the development of clean and renewable energy sources such as solar, geothermal, and wind power. I am also working to further green our tax code which will encourage the development of renewable energy sources and increased energy efficiency. In this Congress and in previous Congresses, I introduced and supported legislation that would create tax incentives for the domestic production and use of solar energy, clean energy storage, and industrial energy efficiency. As Congress prepares to take up comprehensive tax reform, I will continue to fight for these and other efforts to codify green energy investment in the U.S. tax code.
More specifically, in the 112th Congress, I introduced the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Jobs Act (H.R. 6182) to help spur development in America’s solar industry as well as other renewable energy sources. This legislation would provide domestic manufacturers with additional incentives to invest in manufacturing of advanced energy products here at home – dramatically increasing our production to better compete on a global scale. Increased investment in solar energy and other renewables will be especially important in the coming years.
We must also take advantage of California’s public lands which often times are perfect places for responsible renewable energy development. That is why I have coauthored the bipartisan Public Lands Renewable Energy Development Act (H.R. 596) in the last two Congresses. This legislation streamlines permitting for renewable energy projects on public lands. Many of California’s public lands are perfect for responsible renewable energy development, but bureaucracy too often prevents us from capitalizing on this economic engine. This bill fixes that, and will spur energy development and job creation while protecting our public places. The legislation would also establish a revenue sharing system that ensures our counties and state, and the environment can share in the revenues generated from these renewable energy projects.
It’s also important that the playing field is leveled for all energy sources. That is why I have joined with my colleagues in the House and the Senate to introduce the bipartisan Master Limited Partnership Parity Act (H.R. 1696). This legislation would allow renewable energy projects to take advantage of the same business structure, the master limited partnership (MLP) that is currently only available to oil, natural gas, coal extraction, and pipeline projects. Currently, renewable energy corporations pay taxes on their profits and their shareholders pay taxes on the money they receive from their investment. In fossil fuel master limited partnerships, only the partners have to pay taxes on the income made from their investments. In addition, unlike other partnerships, MLPs can be publically traded on a stock market. This simple fix to the tax code will allow renewable energy projects to attract the same investors and access financing tools that have historically only been available to oil and gas projects. This incentivizes private investment in renewable energy and will help create jobs, strengthen our national security, reduce our dependency on foreign oil and move closer to energy independence.
In addition to promoting the development of renewable energy sources, I am also working on bipartisan efforts to reduce the U.S.’s overall energy consumption. The Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program has been particularly successful in reducing energy consumption, providing homeowners and businesses with an innovative financing tool to allow home and business owners to retrofit their homes and businesses to reduce energy usage, save money, and increase the value of their property. This bipartisan initiative is completely voluntary and does not rely on any government subsidies or taxes.
Sonoma County has the country’s most successful PACE program. It’s PACE program has helped the county become a leader in California’s emerging green energy economy and created over $58 million in local investment. In addition to its positive economic impact, the PACE program has also promoted local energy security and savings by encouraging the installation of energy efficient windows, residential solar panels, and water-saving devices. As a result of these investments, more than 700 jobs have been created.
Unfortunately, recent federal regulations have made it difficult, if not impossible, for counties and cities to continue their PACE programs or to start new PACE programs. Federal housing regulators pulled the plug on the program because they don’t like that the loan has a better position than the mortgage. For example, if a property that has a PACE assessment went into foreclosure, the PACE assessment would be repaid before the housing regulator that insured the mortgage. This is how it has always been and still currently is for other assessments, such as property taxes. PACE is being treated differently than any other type of assessment.
I am working with a dedicated, bipartisan group of colleagues in the House on legislation that will allow PACE programs to continue. I want every county in the country to be able to take advantage of this program and experience the same type of success that Sonoma County has enjoyed. Restarting PACE will help us lower energy usage and energy costs for America’s homeowners and businesses and create jobs.
More on Energy
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5) today voted against H.Con.Res. 27, the House Republicans’ Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget resolution. The budget resolution passed by a vote of 228-199. No Democrats voted for the resolution and 17 Republicans voted against the resolution. The budget, if passed by the Senate would be vetoed by President Obama.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (D-CA) today led a bipartisan coalition of legislators in calling on President Obama to protect local clean energy royalties from harmful budget cuts. In a letter to the president, Thompson and the lawmakers expressed their disappointment that geothermal royalty payments to counties were eliminated in the President’s recently released Fiscal Year (FY) 2016 budget. Because of the high burdens that geothermal production places on the counties where it is developed, counties currently share in the revenue of the federal receipts.
Rep. George Miller, D-Martinez, and three of his House colleagues from Northern California asked the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Tuesday to tighten regulations on crude oil transportation by rail. The four urged the DOT to make crude shipments safer before those shipments dramatically expand in the state, as predicted.
By Donna Beth Weilenman
U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-Napa, has joined three other California members of Congress in asking Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to make crude shipments by rail safer.
Thompson, Benicia’s member of the House, as well as Doris Matsui, D-Sacramento, George Miller, D-Martinez, and John Garamendi, D-Fairfield, have written Foxx, asking him to issue regulations and speed up rules that would prevent future accidents during crude delivery by rail.
WASHINGTON D.C. – U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson (CA-5) today released the following statement in recognition of California’s Geothermal Awareness Day.
The last time we checked, generating jobs remained high on the nation's priority list. So is weaning ourselves from traditional greenhouse-gas-producing energy systems.
The latest dire report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change shows, if anything, greater urgency is needed.
Gov. Jerry Brown and Rep. Mike Thompson are involved in separate efforts to boost Sonoma County's groundbreaking program to help residents pay for energy-saving improvements to their homes.
The highly touted program, which has funded more than $50 million worth of residential projects since it started in 2009, sustained a major setback in 2010 when federal housing officials said it jeopardized the nation's major source of home mortgages.
Proposals to make financing clean energy production at individual homes and buildings first showed up in 2001 in San Francisco as a voter-approved solar bond program, and in 2005 in the Monterey Bay Regional Energy Plan.
These strategies were seen as a way to help property owners avoid up-front costs to install or retrofit energy-efficient or clean-energy equipment. But a 2010 decision at the federal level has prevented most homeowners from participating.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Reps. Mike Thompson (D-CA-5), Pete King (R-NY-2) and Sean Patrick Maloney (D-NY-18) introduced the bipartisan Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Assessment Protection Act of 2014.
The annual State of the Valley Breakfast Forum, sponsored by the Sonoma Valley Chamber of Commerce, united a triumvirate of federal, county and local officials Friday morning to reflect on how we’re doing, where we’re going and how we’re going to get there.
Speaking to a packed dining hall of business and government leaders were Fifth District Congressman, Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, 1st District Supervisor Susan Gorin and Sonoma Mayor Tom Rouse.