MOTHER's Newsworthies: Tony Hall, John Gofman and Jim Channon

Learn how Tony Hall fights for solar and wind power energy provisions at Capitol Hill; John Gofman investigates the effects of radiation; and Jim Channon starts The First Earth Battalion.

| November/December 1981

Brief: Congressman Tony Hall 

The Energy Tax Act of 1978 scented like good news, since it offered generous credits to individuals and businesses using alternative energy installations to cut down on their needs for nonrenewable fuel sources. However, since that legislation was passed, its geothermal clause has fallen prey to what Rep. Tony P. Hall (D-Ohio) calls an "arbitrary" ruling of the Internal Revenue Service.

In addition to its solar and wind power provisions, you see, the Energy Tax Act sought to encourage the use of geothermal energy by granting a 407, tax credit on the cost of "earth-powered" equipment to heat or cool residences, and a 10 percent credit for commercial buildings (with a maximum allowance of $4,000).

However, the IRS has ruled that — in order for an owner to qualify for the tax credit — his or her geothermal source must register a temperature of at least 122 degrees Fahrenheit. That regulation, unfortunately, made most buildings in the eastern half of the U.S. ineligible ... since — in that region — ground water of about 50 degrees provides much of the available geothermal energy.

And that, says Rep. Hall, "is precisely the sort of petty bureaucratic nonsense that we're trying to eliminate from the federal government." Furthermore, maintains the Ohio lawmaker, "The IRS temperature ruling ... ignores the tremendous energy-saving potential of lower-temperature geothermal sources that are just as valuable as other forms of renewable energy."

To thwart the tax bureau's action, Hall and his colleague Rep. Don Clauses (R-Calif.) have introduced bipartisan legislation (House bill 4091) that would eliminate the IRS's ability to set a temperature requirement. At press time, the Hall-Clauses bill was scheduled for hearings before the House Ways and Means subcommittee of Select Revenue Measures.

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