Republican amendments include expanding offshore drilling, proposed by Senator David Vitter of Louisiana, and repeal of tax credits for alternative fuels, plug-in electric vehicles and biodiesel, proposed by Senator Jim DeMint of South Carolina.
“Let’s say yes to good, reliable U.S. energy,” Vitter said during debate. “Let’s say yes to increasing energy independence. Let’s do something about the rise of the price at the pump.”
The DeMint amendment doesn’t touch many of the tax breaks for oil and gas companies that Obama has sought to repeal. Obama has targeted breaks for extraction of oil and gas to qualify as domestic manufacturing.
“We don’t need any more giveaways to big oil,” Boxer said during debate. “You can’t drill your way out of this mess.”
Maine Republican Senator Susan Collins is pushing a measure that would halt pending environmental-pollution standards for boilers used in paper plants and refineries, and delay implementing new rules for at least five years.
EPA Boiler Rule
The EPA’s efforts to cut pollution from boilers have been opposed by paper processors such as International Paper Co. and Weyerhaeuser Co., as well as refiners, manufacturers and some universities and hospitals. The rule, which may be finalized in the coming months, will cost $1.5 billion a year, making it one of the most expensive proposed by the EPA.
Wyden said EPA administrator Lisa Jackson had gone to “substantial lengths” to address companies’ concerns that they wouldn’t have enough time to meet the new air-pollution requirements. Boxer said the rules would ensure Americans breathe cleaner air.
An amendment from Senators Robert Menendez, a New Jersey Democrat, and Richard Burr, a North Carolina Republican, would provide tax credits to promote the purchase of vehicles powered by natural gas. The provision, known as the Nat Gas Act, is supported by T. Boone Pickens, founder and chairman of Dallas- based BP Capital LLC, who says he has spent more than $100 million promoting national policies to reduce oil imports.
Pickens is the leading investor in Clean Energy Fuels Corp., a Seal Beach, California, maker of natural-gas fueling stations.
“Detractors and special interests argue that government shouldn’t pick winners and losers, and that we should let the free market work,” Pickens wrote this week in an opinion column in the Orlando Sentinel. “I say it’s time to pick America over OPEC.”
Pickens’ lobbying has set him against fellow billionaire Charles Koch, chief executive officer of Wichita, Kansas-based Koch Industries Inc., who opposes the provision.
“Pickens ‘needs’ the Nat Gas Act because he won’t make even more billions from his natural gas-related investments unless Congress, via tax preferences, ramps up demand for natural gas vehicles and infrastructure,” the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, of Arlington, Virginia, and other groups that support smaller government and lower taxes said in a letter yesterday to senators.