Dems Roll Oil Industry Tax Package into House Energy Bill

House Democratic leaders have included a multibillion dollar oil industry tax package in the sweeping energy bill the House will vote on as soon as tomorrow.

Inclusion of the taxes sets the bill on a collision course with the White House, which has threatened to veto the measure if the provisions make the cut. Senate Republicans also generally oppose the provisions, which may create difficulties when the Senate considers the bill.

The centerpiece of the bill is a landmark increase in auto mileage standards. It also advances major provisions to expand production of biofuels and renewable electric power.

A summary of the bill sent to lawmakers by House Majority Whip James Clyburn (D-S.C.) says the measure "repeals about $21 billion in tax subsidies for Big Oil." A Democratic aide cautioned that the package was not yet finalized and that the overall number on oil and gas taxes is likely to be lower.

The notice does not provide a detailed description of the provisions but does say it largely reflects energy legislation the House approved in January. That bill stripped the oil industry's eligibility for tax breaks on income from domestic manufacturing. It was enacted as part of 2004 corporate tax legislation.

The plan would also roll back a tax break in the major 2005 energy bill for certain oil exploration costs, according to Clyburn's notice. It was not clear at press time whether the oil tax provisions would be aimed only at major, integrated oil companies or apply more broadly.

The House in August approved a package of $16 billion in new and expanded renewable energy and efficiency incentives, largely paid for with oil industry taxes.

Today's notice from Clyburn, which attempts to gauge which members would support the bill, confirms it will include renewable and efficiency incentives addressing electric power, credits for a plug-in hybrid/electric vehicles and other technologies.

The notice from Clyburn also confirms the bill will include a renewable electricity standard that requires utilities to provide 15 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2020, though it allows about a fourth of the measure to be met with energy efficiency measures. The White House has also threatened a veto if this language is included.

Two Democratic aides confirmed this morning that the bill will not include a provision aimed at recouping royalty payments from flawed late 1990s Gulf of Mexico leases.

Clyburn's notice summarizes a slew of other provisions, such as enhanced appliance and building efficiency, a worker training program for "green collar" jobs in energy efficiency and renewable energy, loans for small business purchase, development of efficient technologies and others. The notice also says the bill will include language on reducing greenhouse gases from coal-fired power plants, including research and development on large-scale carbon sequestration. The notice adds that it "includes incentives for clean coal, which for the first time ever include a requirement for carbon sequestration."

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