Texas bill offers tax breaks for coal with greenhouse gas emissions capture

The House tentatively approved legislation Monday by Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford to grant up to $300 million in tax breaks to companies developing technology to generate coal from electricity while reducing global warming pollution.

King said HB 469 would make Texas a pioneer in the development of the technology. Companies would agree to capture 70 percent of the carbon dioxide they produce.

The first three completed qualifying plants would each be eligible for tax credits of up to $100 million. But they wouldn't be able to claim the credits until after the plants began operation and met the requirements for capturing carbon dioxide.

Old-style coal-fired plants are one of the biggest sources of carbon dioxide, the main gas that traps heat in the atmosphere.

"If we're going to do this, let's make sure it's the cleanest possible," said Cyrus Reed, conservation director of the Lone Star chapter of the Sierra Club.

Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, expressed support of clean-coal technology but assailed the proposed tax credits as "big government helping big business." Granting each company $100 million in credits, he said, would further reduce revenue from the state's under-performing business tax.

King countered that any loss of revenue would be quickly offset. The plants, he said, would be multibillion-dollar operations with the potential to add economic benefits to the state.

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