Guest column submitted by U.S. Senator Mike Crapo
Americans are rightly concerned with the price of gasoline exceeding $4.00 per gallon in parts of our country. In many rural areas, jobs, grocery stores and schools are miles from home, and public transportation is not an option. As we start the summer and producers are fueling up farm equipment and shipping goods to market, high fuel costs cast a shadow on productivity and cause financial hardship for families. America recognizes the importance of establishing a sound energy policy that sustains affordable energy costs. However, strong disagreement in Washington, D.C. is hindering progress. Aggressive engagement in developing our own energy resources is needed to increase supply and decrease dependence on foreign sources of energy.
Creating more efficient fuels and exploring and supporting alternate and renewable energy production are part of the equation, but not at the expense of risking our country's current, stable source of fuel. To truly improve the situation, we must engage in an aggressive effort to develop our own oil and gas resources. Efforts to increase taxes on domestic oil production would decrease oil exploration and production as well as act as a disincentive to new refinery construction efforts. These actions would lead to the increased cost of oil and gas while cutting millions of hardworking American jobs.
The U.S. Senate recently debated the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act. This legislation would amend the tax code to single out the top five earning energy companies and deny them eligibility for many of the business tax credits that will continue to be used by other energy companies and other businesses, including a credit for tax payments made to foreign governments and the domestic manufacturing tax deduction. The U.S. Senate failed to pass this legislation. I voted against this legislation because a tax increase on the domestic production of oil and gas would only hurt the consumer through higher prices at the pump, send U.S. jobs overseas and increase American dependence on foreign sources of oil.
Our energy challenges are not related to a perceived inability to tax oil companies, but rather, they relate to turmoil in the Middle East coupled with our own domestic policies that prevent full-scale domestic oil and gas development. Rather than focusing on raising taxes, aggressive engagement in developing our own resources is needed to decrease dependence on foreign sources of energy. Many of the tax provisions energy companies may utilize in the production of oil are available to other companies. Singling out a few energy companies to increase tax revenue will not result in lower energy costs. It will reduce dollars for exploration of our own resources, and it does not address the base problem of our national energy policy: namely that we are not engaged in an aggressive effort to develop our own oil and gas resources.
With transportation in our country accounting for two-thirds of our oil consumption, I will continue to advocate for proposals that will positively change our energy policy, such as the No Cost Stimulus Act, of which I am a cosponsor. This legislation would dramatically stimulate our economy, while allowing for expanded domestic oil development by easing the permitting process and enabling more aggressive engagement in offshore and Alaska oil productions. These steps are needed to make overdue progress in developing a sound energy policy that eliminates U.S. dependence on foreign energy sources.
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