On Energy, Talking Points That Damage Competitiveness

By January 26, 2011Energy, Taxation

In his State of the Union address Thursday, the President again repeated his familiar talking points dismissing the oil industry.

We need to get behind this innovation. And to help pay for it, I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies. (Applause.) I don’t know if — I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but they’re doing just fine on their own. (Laughter.) So instead of subsidizing yesterday’s energy, let’s invest in tomorrow’s.

Yesterday’s energy? That’s not a serious comment that should be included in any serious address to the American people. Oil and natural gas provide more than 60 percent of the America’s energy. It’s TODAY’s energy, and TOMORROW’s energy, and investment in it should be encouraged, not disparaged.

The American Petroleum Institute issued a statement from its president and CEO, Jack Gerard, in response. Excerpt:

Tonight was a missed opportunity. The president focused on job growth through federal spending, but was silent on one of the best ways to create jobs: allow more energy development. Natural gas and renewables are important components of our energy mix, but we will need our nation’s vast oil resources for decades to come. The oil and natural gas industry is a key driver of new jobs and economic prosperity Producing more oil and gas at home, which most Americans want, could create hundreds of thousands of jobs, reduce our deficit by billions, and enhance our energy security. Even better, the government wouldn’t have to invest a single taxpayer dollar – just give industry a green light to invest its own money.

The U.S. oil and natural gas industry also pays taxes at effective rates far higher than most other industries, and does not receive payments from the government to support oil and gas development. The tax deductions it does receive are similar to those enjoyed by other industries to encourage energy production and new jobs. We need policies that help the 9.2 million hardworking men and women in the industry, not hurt them.

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