Congress tops off first 100 Hours by passing Clean Energy Act

Environment Colorado

WASHINGTON, DC – Today the House of Representatives voted 264 to 163 to pass “The C.L.E.A.N. Energy Act of 2007,” (H.R. 6) which would close some tax loopholes for big oil companies and once again require fair royalties from oil and gas leased in public waters. 

 H.R. 6 will shift more than $14 billion from these subsidies to investments in clean energy, such as energy efficient technologies and renewable power.  The bill was the last of the six bills brought up for consideration during the House’s first 100 legislative hours.

 “Today the 110th Congress made a down payment on a new energy future,” said Matthew Garrington, Field Director for Environment Colorado. “Their investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency will create jobs and save consumers money,” continued Garrington.

 H.R. 6 would establish a “clean energy fund” to channel more public and private dollars towards investments in energy efficient and renewable energy technologies.  These funds could:

 · spur the construction of wind and solar energy power generation facilities;

· save consumers money on their energy bills with incentives for energy efficient   appliances, buildings, and equipment

· enable more to purchase gas-saving hybrid cars and trucks

 The resources for the fund would come from the elimination of more than $14 billion in subsidies and tax breaks that benefit oil and gas companies that made record profits over the past few years. 

 “Oil companies made record profits last year,” said Garrington. “Taxpayers don’t need to give handouts to Big Oil so they can drill at the expense of wildlife and Colorado’s public lands.”

 The bill would also provide a strong incentive for oil companies to renegotiate offshore drilling leases signed in 1998 and 1999 that provided unlimited royalty relief.  It would also repeal several royalty relief provisions authorized in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. 

 A recent study by the U.S. Department of Interior found that royalty relief has led to “only a tiny increase in production,” (New York Times, 12/22/06) but would cost nearly $48 billion over the next 40 years.

 The bill would also prevent major oil companies such as ExxonMobil from claiming a tax break for “geological and geophysical” expenditures enacted in 2005. It would also remove a tax benefit from 2004 that lowers the income tax rate paid by oil companies by reclassifying oil and gas production as a manufactured good.

 “More than ever, America needs a new direction on energy policy. With the passage of the C.L.E.A.N. Energy Act of 2007, Congress has sent a clear message that they are ready to start solving our energy problems.

 “While we applaud the members Colorado’s Congressional delegation that supported this critical step toward a new energy future, it is unfortunate that this important bill did not receive more bipartisan support in Colorado,” said Garrington.

 “It’s disappointing that Rep. Musgrave chose to support subsidies for the world’s richest oil companies instead of investing in clean energy solutions that could benefit rural economies on Colorado’s Eastern Plains,” concluded Garrington.