Whither Fuel Prices and National Energy Policy?

Republicans are unwilling to slap a 25% windfall profits tax and rescind $17 billion in tax breaks over the next 10 years for Big Oil that were earmarked to provide incentives to develop alternative energy, arguing that such measures would only add to gasoline prices at the pump and increase U.S. reliance on foreign oil.
In blocking a Democrat-led bill voted on in the Senate yesterday, they also blocked renewal of the renewable energy production tax credit for solar, wind and other alternative energy sources.
The bill would have also given Congress greater powers to take action against excessive oil market speculation, increasingly viewed as a big factor in the oil price rise as Saudi Arabia makes the case that recent price rises are unwarranted in light of supply-demand conditions. It would also have made energy price gouging a federal crime and would have opened up the possibility of anti-trust actions against OPEC members, accoridng to an AP report.

Government Gridlock
The Republican blockade didnt’ come as any big surprise as Pres. Bush made it clear he would veto the bill if it made its way to his desk.
The bill would have imposed a windfall profits tax on five multinational oil companies: Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., Shell Oil Co., BP America Inc. and ConocoPhillips Co.
The latest Republican rebuff is only the latest demonstration of the fundamental differences and inability of government leaders to reach any accord or take any action when it comes to national energy policy.
While Republicans argued that a 25% windfall profits tax would discourage domestic production, Democrats countered that the bill differed substantially from similar ones presented in the 1980s in that the tax package on the other hand offered incentives to invest in alternative energy sources and in expanding refinery capacity.
Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama voted in favor of the bill while Republican presidential nominee John McCain opposed it, favoring across-the-board tax reductions for industry instead.
Cheap gasoline prices, putting money in people’s pockets, fear of job losses and excessive government regulation have been enough to satisfy the mass of American voters for generations now when it comes to energy policy, and Republican politicians are apparently counting on the same formula continuing to work.
They are willing to somehow come up with public money for stimulus rebates and to continue financing the war in Iraq, and sending American boys and girls to the Middle East, across central and into south Asia in an effort to secure supplies of “cheap” oil, however. Though none of these are ever factored into prices at the pump, it’s clear that they are an additional cost to our dependence on oil and gasoline and fuel prices at the pump.

An independent journalist, researcher and writer, my work roams across the nexus where ecology, technology, political economy and sociology intersect and overlap. The lifelong quest for knowledge of the world and self -- not to mention gainful employment -- has led me near and far afield, from Europe, across the Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa and back home to the Americas. LinkedIn: andrew burger Google+: Andrew B Email: huginn.muggin@gmail.com

5 responses

  1. Nice article.
    One quick point about the price of oil – I love the fact that oil prices are so out of touch with real demand due because of speculators. 67% of American’s say they changed their driving behavior once oil reached $4.00/gallon and prices continue to soar. (http://www.ipsos-na.com/news/pressrelease.cfm?id=3953)
    On another point, do you have any comments to offer towards those who see sharp, yet small, drops in production from Russia, Venezuela (last year, I beleive), and others as a sign that in many regions, oil production may have peaked?

  2. Rescind Tax Breaks YES, tax windfall profits, NO. As much as I dislike the oil industry, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to me to slap taxes on companies for selling what people are demanding. And that demand is the primary reason that prices are out of control. The one thing the republicans are right about is that taxing profits WILL be the same as taxing people at the pump – the oil companies will pass the price on.
    I do agree with trying to stop speculation, though how in the world can you enforce that?
    What we need to do is just keep prices where they are, hovering at $4+ a gallon, that’s really the only thing that’s going to change people’s behavior and ironically, the best thing that can happen to the country. If the oil companies profit, so what? They can either get fat and die, or they can start investing their profits in new, renewable ways.

  3. Drill here. Drill now. Pay Less. Before Barrack Hussein Obama can raise the price. Obama has promised to raise corporate taxes. But corporations don’t pay taxes. You do. Through higher prices.

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