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Northern Panhandle could benefit from aid bill

WASHINGTON — Northern and Eastern Panhandle counties would be eligible for aid under a bill aimed at increasing U.S. manufacturing by offering tax credits for the production of advanced energy products and technology that was co-introduced by senators from West Virginia and Michigan.

The American Jobs in Energy Manufacturing Act offers $8 billion for companies investing, retooling, expanding or building new facilities to make or recycle energy-related products and $4 billion for use in communities where coal mines have closed.

The bill was introduced by Sens. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, both Democrats.

“The downturn of the coal industry has left many Americans and West Virginians without good-paying jobs they once relied on and more often than not a lack of any new opportunities, which really is what’s hurting our areas,” Manchin said at a Monday virtual press conference. Tax credits to help incentivize a transition to a cleaner energy future should be targeted for job creation in the communities most impacted by the transition, he said.

“That’s exactly what the American Jobs in Energy Manufacturing Act does,” he said. “It does accomplish this.”

This bill, which builds upon the 48C Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit, focuses investment tools on rebuilding the coal communities across Appalachia, strengthening domestic supply chains, creating clean energy manufacturing jobs “and aid the nation’s economic recovery,” Manchin said.

“I’m with you. I’m very excited about this,” Stabenow said. “It’s not only the right time, but we know that it works.”

Northern Panhandle counties with eligible census tracts to qualify under the bill include Hancock, Brooke, Ohio and Marshal counties, according to a synopsis of the bill provided by Manchin’s office. Counties from the Eastern Panhandle are Mineral, Hampshire, Hardy, Grant and Pendleton.

The bill encourages new construction or retrofitting existing manufacturing and industrial facilities to produce or recycle a wide range of energy products, including products or technologies that capture, use or store carbon, equipment for low-carbon, low-emission chemical and fuel supply chains, renewable energy and efficiency equipment, advanced electric grid, energy storage and fuel cell equipment and advanced light-, medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, components and related infrastructure. The bill provides new guidelines and technical assistance to aid applicants in states that have not accessed the 48C manufacturing tax credits, promotes domestic job creation that draws on existing skilled workforces, particularly workers dislocated from manufacturing, coal mining, or retired coal power plants and promotes reinvestment in communities experiencing high unemployment.

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