NewEnergyNews: MRS. HUTCHISON OF TEXAS: OBSTACLE TO ENERGY BILL

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    Friday, October 26, 2007

    MRS. HUTCHISON OF TEXAS: OBSTACLE TO ENERGY BILL

    The provisions in the House version of the energy bill Senator Hutchison is concerned with remove protections from taxation of domestic and foreign oil and gas income. The protections were provided long ago to incentivize fossil fuel production when oil prices were low or unpredictable. The protections were sustained by a Republican Congress in the 2005 energy bill.

    House Democrats would shift some of those incentives to producers of renewable energy. In lieu of a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) mandating that US utilities obtain a specified percent of their electricity from renewables by a date certain, House Democrats might settle for broad tax incentives and tax credit extensions for renewables. But that takes money. Senator Hutchison doesn't want it coming out of the pockets of her constituents in the oil and gas industry.


    Texas Senator Blocks House-Senate Energy Conference
    Ben Genman, October 24, 2007 (E&E Daily via RigZone)

    WHO
    Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas), Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif), Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas)

    The Energy Bill has reached the black square at the center of the diagram labelled CONFERENCE COMMITTEE. Above is President Bush's veto. Below is his approval. What is not shown is the myriad of complications and convolutions politicians can create before the bill gets past the conference process. The diagram also does not show how much party loyalists might want to keep an issue unsettled as a campaign cause. (click to enlarge)

    WHAT
    Hutchison admitted she is blocking Reid’s efforts to bring congress to conference on the energy bill until she is satisfied billions of dollars in incentives to oil and gas producers are protected.

    WHEN
    Hutchison’s acknowledgement of her role came October 23.

    WHERE
    Hutchison is fighting provisions in the House version of the energy bill which the Senate rejected.

    WHY
    - Huitchison is rumored to be planning a run for the Texas governorship and whould therefore need the support of the industry interests she is protecting.
    - The House energy bill provisions remove more than $11 billion in tax cuts to oil and gas producers over 10 years.
    - Reid announced last week he would be trying to put together a conference on the energy bill to work out differences between the House and Senate versions.
    - A compromise on auto fuel efficiency standards was reportedly reached last week.
    - Speaker Pelosi has said she will proceed without a conference. Senate Majority Leader Reid says there will be an energy bill "...one way or another."

    Senator Hutchison with Mrs. Bush and Senator Feinstein (D-Calif). Will Hutchison's stand against New Energy win her the Texas Governorship?

    QUOTES
    - Hutchison: "I am very concerned about pieces of the legislation, and I am holding it up right now…It is discrimination against one industry, and I also think it is coming at a time when we all know we need more refinery capacity…I am not saying I will keep a hold on it forever, because I will listen to those who think it will be better to have input in the bill, but at this point, I don't see a clear advantage to going to conference with this kind of stacked deck…"
    - Cornyn: "The concern is, of course, if we don't go to conference it will be ping-ponged back and forth across the rotunda, and we won't have any inputs on it… The fact of the matter is if it contains the tax provisions and perhaps other provisions the president is going to veto it anyway…"

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