Conservatives Addicted to Big Oil

Bill Scher

After passing last month a penny-ante compromise bill on energy, Senate leaders finally launched a real confrontation over the direction of our energy policy.

And the Senate conservative minority was exposed, as they once again filibustered legislation reflecting the public will. The AP wire headline was plain: “Senate GOP blocks windfall tax on Big Oil.”

The bill laid out a clear shift in energy policy. The proposed tax on oil companies would not apply to profits “reinvested in clean, affordable, domestically produced renewable fuels, expanding refinery capacity and utilization, or renewable electricity production.” This is a compromise approach, creating an incentive to increase the supply of both clean energy and refined oil.

And the bill brought back a previously filibustered proposal to repeal $17 billion of tax subsidies to BIg Oil. Both the repeal and the windfall tax revenue would have been returned to consumers to help with current price spikes and invested in clean energy to help with energy costs in the near future.

Furthermore, conservatives filibustered another critical bill, extending tax credits to companies generating renewable energy including wind and solar power. Why? As the San Francisco Chronicle reports, “it would have raised taxes on hedge-fund managers to pay for the tax credits.”

Heaven forfend!

But perhaps more important to conservatives than protecting hedge fund managers profits, is protecting oil companies from having to compete with other energy producers on a level playing field, denying consumers a real choice for their energy needs.

President Bush has said, “America is addicted to oil.” But perhaps it’s more accurate to say: conservatives are addicted to Big Oil.

Because we Americans have been quite clear that we want a new energy policy that uses our tax dollars, not to pad Big Oil’s record profits, but to increase the supply of clean energy so we won’t be at the mercy of Big Oil forever.

Given the opportunity to break their addiction, conservatives refused to take the first step and admit they have a problem.

Bring on the intervention.

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