Big Breaks for Big Oil, Big Dealbreaker

This week’s stories:

  1. Highlight of the Week: Big profits for Big Oil
  2. Quote: House Speaker John Boehner
  3. Economic Story of the Week: Baucus takes on Tax Breaks
  4. Editorial of the Week: End the tax giveaways for oil companies
  5. FTC to Probe Tar Sands Price Manipulation
  6. Payback Ads Hit Hard
  7. NWF’s First Green Flag Flies in Georgia
  8. Happening this Week

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Highlight of the Week

Big profits for Big Oil

via Flickr, Marshall Astor

As energy prices soar, and large oil and gas companies announce billions in first quarter profits, efforts to repeal tax breaks given to Big Oil have become the hot topic on the Hill. After House Speaker John Boehner’s gaffe admitting that Congress should consider stopping the subsidies that fuel our addiction to dirty oil, he then spent the week backpedaling and clarifying that he opposes efforts to increase taxes on oil companies.

Boehner is now rejecting leadership requests for a vote on the recommended legislation to rollback these subsidies. Meanwhile, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) announced in a town hall that he supports eliminating ‘corporate welfare’ and ending subsidies for the oil industry, although his 2012 budget proposal leaves intact $40 billion in subsidies that could instead be directed to clean energy development.

While the recent announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death may have distracted both parties long enough to issue press statements on the strength of America, it also sparked questions about the impact on the world oil market, prices at the pump, and the deficit.

More on this story: E&E News

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Flickr, House GOP

“Everybody wants to go after the oil companies and, frankly, they’ve got some part of this to blame,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) told ABC News.

When asked if Congress should consider cutting multi-billion dollar subsidies to oil companies he responded, “It’s certainly something we should be looking at. We’re in a time when the federal government’s short on revenues. They ought to be paying their fair share.”

– House Speaker John Boehner.

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Economic Story of the Week

Baucus takes on Tax Breaks

via Flickr, Janie Hernandez

Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) has unveiled a plan to eliminate or reduce tax breaks for the largest oil and gas companies and invest in cleaner and cheaper domestic energy sources.

While details of the plan are likely to come out in legislation this week, it would include the elimination of a section 199 domestic manufacturing deduction, a reduction of the foreign tax credit for royalty payments to foreign governments, and the imposition of an excise tax on certain Gulf leases. The plan would also work to incentivize fuel efficient vehicles and building a clean energy infrastructure.

“Now is not the time to stand idly by while large oil and gas companies get billions of dollars in tax breaks – now is the time to take concrete steps toward cleaner, more affordable, domestically-produced energy,” said Baucus. “Reducing dependence on foreign oil isn’t easy, but this plan puts us on a path toward a clean, affordable energy future that works for our planet – and our pocketbooks.”

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Editorial of the Week

End the tax giveaways for oil companies

(Delaware County Daily Times)

Executives at Exxon insist that they are not responsible for the high cost of gasoline and that tax breaks are necessary to keep jobs at home — and, they insisted, they didn’t even make that much money. Exxon’s profit for the first quarter of 2011 was only $10.65 billion….

Noted Obama, “When oil companies are making huge profits and you’re struggling at the pump and we’re scouring the federal budget for spending we can afford to do without, these tax giveaways aren’t right.” …They make as much sense as slashing subsidies to the poor and the elderly by gutting Medicaid and Medicare to balance the budget while the wealthy prosper with the help of Bush-era tax breaks. (More…)

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FTC To Probe Tar Sands Price Manipulation

In a letter to Federal Trade Commission (FTC) chairman Jonathan Liebowitz, NRDC and NWF join Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR) in calling for an investigation of Canadian tar sands oil companies to determine whether they are trying to manipulate U.S. oil prices and violate laws designed to curb unfair trade practices with the proposed Keystone XL pipeline.

“Consumers are already hurting in this economy and foreign oil companies appear to be plotting to gouge them further,” said Jim Murphy, senior counsel at NWF. “They need the Federal Trade Commission to act on Senator Wyden’s request to investigate potential wrongdoing.”

Industry documents that recently came to light have found that the disputed Canada-to-Texas pipeline are likely to harm Midwesterners by forcing consumers to pay more for fuel. The documents show the industry is planning to boost profits by rerouting supply toward the Gulf of Mexico and away from the Midwest.

More on this story: NWF Media Center

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Payback Ads Hit Hard

League of Women Voters, via Youtube

The League of Women Voters launched a hard-hitting accountability television ad campaign to defend the Clean Air Act and EPA authority to regulate pollution.

The ads call public attention to votes by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Scott Brown (R-MA) earlier this month to block new air pollution standards and hold them accountable for their actions. The ads ask both Senators to “protect the people, not the polluters.” The ‘people’, I might add, are heart wrenchingly embodied by a gasping asthmatic child.

More on this story:

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NWF’s First Green Flag Flies in Georgia

via NWF

Savannah Country Day School in Georgia was recently named the nation’s first Green Flag Eco-School, which signifies exceptional achievement in school sustainability. The school achieved this honor through a combination of excellence by “green” management of its facilities and grounds, providing opportunities for outdoor education, and by integrating environmental learning throughout its curricula.

The Eco-Schools USA program, which is hosted by National Wildlife Federation, counts nearly 500 schools and some 205,000 students among its participants, but none has achieved the program’s highest honor, the Green Flag, until now. To win the first Green Flag, Savannah Country Day School, which completed a Silver LEED-certified lower school building in 2008, tackled a variety of sustainability projects, including lunchroom recycling and composting, a vegetable garden, environmental current events coursework and ‘outdoor classroom time.’

More on this story: Savannah Morning News, NWF Media Center

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Happening this Week

Wednesday, May 4

Hearings: H.R. 1229, the “Putting the Gulf of Mexico Back to Work Act,” and H.R. 1230, the “Restarting American Offshore Leasing Now Act”, House Rules Committee, 3pm, H313

Coming up….
June 8-12, 2011
Social Change Institute. Skills, Tools & Leadership presented by Hollyhock.
Click here to register.

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