Thursday, April 30, 2009

Is Environmental Tax Incentives always the answer?

Investing in renewable energy through tax incentives is the power that is driving Senate Bill 6170. Whether it becomes a Washington State law depends on what happens during the coming days on the senate floor. Proponents of this bill want tax incentives for machinery and equipment investments for electricity generation using fuel cells, wind, sun, biomass energy, tidal or wave energy and geothermal resources. The concept is progressive as it offers opportunity for energy generation using renewable resources; and, protecting environmental degradation from radioactive waste. It also extends tax write-off in an area where expertise is better served by many federal government programs for radio-active waste clean-up.

Washington SB 6170 is fraught with governmental waste, as it seeks to do what the Federal Department of Energy is already mandated to carry out and federal programs have essentially been resolving: cleaning up radioactive waste and other by-products of weapons production and nuclear energy generation. The bill will like to give tax write offs for investors who put money in handling, storing, treating, immobilizing or disposing radioactive tank waste to prevent contamination of soil and ground water. Does it make sense for taxpayers to be paying environmental management companies who are providing clean-up services for radio-active waste clean up? Yes it is worthwhile to have a progressive idea, but introducing an environmental protection instrument or behavioral modification initiative that encourages transfer payments to enterprises that are essentially duplicating the federal government efforts, is probably not a good deal for the millions of tax payers in Washington State.
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