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Oil Execs Continue to Defend Billions in Tax Breaks
As record high gas prices batter consumers and anger voters, Senators on the Finance Committee hauled Big Oil’s top five executives to the Capitol for a hearing on proposals that might just lead to an end to wasteful taxpayer subsidies at a time of record industry profits. The heads of the five largest oil companies – Exxon-Mobil, BP, Shell, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips – testified that the billions in tax breaks are necessary to continue production and keep energy prices low. This is a claim previously refuted by oil executives in the past, who have stated that “with high oil prices such subsidies are not necessary” and the non-partisan Congressional Research Service found that ending subsidies won’t have much of an effect on gas prices. ConocoPhillips CEO Jim Mulva even went so far as to claim that ending these taxpayer-funded handouts is “un-American”.
Read the play-by-play on yesterday’s hearing from NWF’s Tony Iallonardo.
The bill, sponsored by Senator Menendez (D-NJ) and cosponsored by 28 of his colleagues, will eliminate nearly $21 billion in subsidies to the largest oil companies over the next 10 years and put that money to deficit reduction. This bill is a step in the right direction, but it leaves billions of wasteful dirty energy tax breaks on books: going after all $4 billion in oil and gas tax breaks, coal subsidies, and incentives to produce environmentally-destructive corn ethanol. Money that could not only help ease budget pressures, but could be put to use on research, development and deployment technology to reduce dependence on fossil fuels and protect wildlife and the natural ecosystems upon which communities depend.
Budget Deal on the Horizon?
Prospects for passage in the Senate are slim and even less optimistic in the House, where proposals to end tax breaks have been rejected. While the current legislation may not make it to the President’s desk, the issue is not going away. Government spending and deficit reduction continues to remain at the top of the agenda in Washington, D.C. and both Democrats and Republicans have indicated support for ending tax breaks to oil companies in the name of getting our fiscal house in order, opening a door to a deal on ending the subsidies.