Posted by Matt Dempsey

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The Oklahoman

Sen. Jim Inhofe praises bipartisan opposition to removing energy tax credits and deductions

Oklahoma Senator says BP oil spill shouldn't be used against industry


June 17, 2010

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WASHINGTON - A strong Senate vote against raising taxes on the oil and gas industry was a bipartisan message that lawmakers don't want to punish all companies for the BP oil spill, Sen. Jim Inhofe said Wednesday.

Sen. Jim Inhofe praises bipartisan opposition to removing energy tax credits and deductions Inhofe, R-Tulsa, made the comment a day after he led the fight against a proposal to eliminate some of the tax credits and deductions available to exploration companies. The proposal was made by Sen. Bernard Sanders, a Vermont independent, as an amendment to a hodgepodge of a bill that would extend some current tax breaks as well as unemployment benefits.

Sanders' amendment would have repealed the tax credits that allow exploration companies to write off some of their expenses and depreciation. The proposal, which mirrors one made by President Barack Obama the last two years, would also have excluded energy exploration companies from the deduction available to U.S. manufacturers.

Sanders' proposal was defeated by a vote of 61 to 35 on Tuesday, as Democrats from all over the country joined Republicans in opposition.

"With the vote on the Sanders amendment, the Senate has clearly spoken with a strong bipartisan message that the entire oil and gas industry as a whole - especially small independent producers like many of those in Oklahoma - should not be penalized for BP's catastrophe in the Gulf," Inhofe said Wednesday.

"The Senate understands the value of our nation's domestic energy producers, the needs they meet, the jobs they create, the fact that they fund many state and local initiatives and the payments they make to landowners."

Mike McDonald, chairman of the Oklahoma Independent Petroleum Association, said the proposed tax policy changes "would have crippled independent crude oil and natural gas producers, killed hundreds of thousands of good paying U.S. jobs, shut-in marginal wells, increased consumer costs and made America more dependent on foreign oil."

Sanders dismissed similar claims made by Inhofe as hyperbole, citing a U.S. Treasury Department analysis that estimated 1,650 job losses if the changes were made.

Sanders said the changes would have brought $35 billion in more revenue over 10 years for the U.S. Treasury. He proposed that $25 billion be used to reduce the national debt and the other $10 billion go to the Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program.

The block grant spending would create an estimated 140,000 jobs, Sanders said.

"The bottom line is we have a huge deficit and huge tax breaks for profitable corporations," Sanders said during debate on Tuesday.

"We have the opportunity now to do what President Obama put into his 2011 budget and eliminate those tax breaks, bring $35 billion more into the Treasury - $25 billion for deficit reduction and $10 billion to create over 100,000 new jobs as we make our country more energy efficient and we move to sustainable energy."