Human Journey

Green Pork

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By Wendy Gordon

If you want to bike to work but have met resistance from your employer, this may help your cause – the massive bailout bill passed by both houses of Congress a couple weeks ago includes a Bicycle Commuter provision. No, not a nickel of the $700 billion the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 will go to you or your employer, but the measure will provide a $20 tax credit per month to employers of bike commuters–that could go toward adding biker-friendly provisions like racks and locker rooms. Hopefully in the case of renters like us, the credit could go to the building manager.

The bailout package included other “green pork” (not just an unflattering expression but a bit of an oxymoron): A $2500 tax credit for owners of electric cars and the extension of the production tax credits and investment tax credits provisions for renewable energy. In the case of the latter, wind power tax credits have been extended for one year; other types of renewable energy, like small-scale hydro or tidal power, have been extended for two years. The best news is that solar tax credits for businesses and residential installations have been extended for eight years. The entire package amounts to $18 billion in tax credits which will be partly paid for by a change in the tax code for the oil and gas industry–and is expected to create and save a half million jobs. These provisions may be “green pork,” but the U.S. has already lost over 760,000 jobs this year, according to the Labor Department. There are many among us hoping that the economy helps fuel a source of new “green collar” jobs on a scale not seen since the New Deal.   

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