Thursday, January 3, 2013

More energy-related news in the Fiscal Bluff deal

In Good news for food and energy in the Fiscal Bluff deal, I mentioned some good news for energy in the form of the extension of some business tax breaks, like for wind energy.  It turned out there was more.  From Business Insider:
2. And a tax credit for 2- and 3-wheel electric vehicles.
This is a continuation of an existing tax credit for smaller electric hybrids and plug-in vehicles.
3. Something having to do with Diesel Fuel:
This is an extension of a tax credit for biodiesel and renewable diesel production. Both of these are good news as far as energy goes.  This next one, however, is an example of the power of dopamine returned on gasoline invested, but not about energy conservation.
5. A gift to the car-racing world.
Naked Capitalism has a more detailed description.
1) Help out NASCAR - Sec 312 extends the “seven year recovery period for motorsports entertainment complex property”, which is to say it allows anyone who builds a racetrack and associated facilities to get tax breaks on it. This one was projected to cost $43 million over two years.
Just like I now live close to the Woodward Dream Cruise, I used to live close enough to Michigan International Speedway that I could not only hear the cars race, I could tell what kind of cars were on the track.  Stock cars produced a low roar, while open-wheel (Indy) cars gave off a high-pitched whine.  I got a good deal of the race experience just from where I used to live, although I never went to the track.  Just watching the traffic, which took nearly 24 hours to clear out, was enough for me.  It was worse than living in Ann Arbor and dealing with football game traffic, and I coped with that for 10 years.  Just the same, I got a bit of dopamine and adrenaline boost just from living near MIS.

Naked Capitalism had three more energy-related items, which I'll present in reverse order.
8) Bonus Depreciation, R&D Tax Credit – These are well-known corporate boondoggles. The research tax credit was projected to cost $8B for 2010 and 2011, and the depreciation provisions were projected to cost about $110B for those two years, with some of that made up in later years.
As intended, I like tax incentives for R&D.  As practiced, I don't know if I'd disagree with Naked Capitalism.
4) Help a brother mining company out – Sec. 307 and Sec. 316 offer tax incentives for miners to buy safety equipment and train their employees on mine safety. Taxpayers shouldn’t have to bribe mining companies to not kill their workers.
No, we shouldn't have to, but it beats the likely alternative, especially in coal mines owned by Massey Energy.
2) A hundred million or so for Railroads - Sec. 306 provides tax credits to certain railroads for maintaining their tracks. It’s unclear why private businesses should be compensated for their costs of doing business. This is worth roughly $165 million a year.
My guess is because Amtrak trains roll over them, and they're government owned.  This is probably compensation for maintaing the tracks for passenger trains.  This is actually a good thing, as it's a sign that the U.S. is doing something to improve a railroad system that Kunstler says the Bulgarians would be ashamed of.  Combine that with the news about NASCAR, biodiesel, and wind energy, and I'm sure I can get a reaction out of him if I try.

Hat/tip to fellow Coffee Partier Michael Charney for the two source articles to this entry.

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