WASHINGTON ,DC- Today the US House of Representatives will vote to take a first step on the path to energy independence. The Clean Energy Act, co-sponsored by Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter, will increase investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency by repealing $13 billion in tax subsidies given to major oil companies.
Oil companies have made record profits in recent years. The big five oil companies made $97 billion in 2006, five times their profits in 2002. "Taxpayers are paying record prices at the gas pumps while oil companies are getting taxbreaks," said Shea-Porter. "What's wrong with this picture?"
Over the last several years, oil companies have paid royalties to the U.S. government worth only a fraction of the value of the oil and gas produced on public land. Territory in the Gulf of Mexico and off the coast of Alaska is by law the property of the federal government and by extension of American taxpayers. Congressional auditors have said that the government has already lost up to $2 billion in royalties and could lose as much as $10 billion in the future. The bill would force companies to pay the government for the right to extract oil in these areas - effectively returning money to U.S.taxpayers.
The Clean Energy Act also reduces tax breaks for geological studies for oil exploration undertaken by the five largest oil companies. Under this measure, those companies will write off their exploration costs over seven years, instead of the five years provided in the 2005 energy bill.
The bill will also put aside funds for future investment in renewable energy and alternative fuels. In addition, it will promote the use of energy efficient products and conservation.
"The administration talks about "energy independence," said Shea-Porter, "but talk is cheap. It's time to step up to the plate."