Congressman says country must end oil
industry tax breaks
Jan 8, 2008 - Mark Hollis - South Florida
Palm Beach Gardens - U.S. Rep. Tim Mahoney
said Monday that Congress should take another stab this
year at ending billions of dollars in oil-industry tax breaks
and use the subsidies to fund research on renewable fuels.
Stepping into a political squabble between
oil and farming interests, Mahoney said roughly $14 billion
a year in subsidies to major oil companies are no longer
needed, with oil producers enjoying record profits and oil
prices exceeding $90 a barrel.
The Palm Beach Gardens Democrat represents
a district stretching from Palm Beach to Charlotte counties
where sugar and citrus farming is one of the biggest economic
interests. He said the controversial tax breaks to oil drillers
could pay to promote renewable fuels, such as solar and
wind power, and also help develop better technologies for
creating ethanol from citrus peels and pulp and sugar cane.
Speaking to a national bipartisan, alternative-energy
group, Mahoney criticized oil industry supporters in Washington,
D.C., for blocking efforts last year by Democrats in Congress
to end the subsidies. Republicans have complained that such
a move would force an increase in gasoline prices and create
a so-called "slush fund" for alternative energy projects.
The Democratic-controlled House passed a version
of an energy bill last year that eliminated the subsidies.
But the Senate and President Bush refused to go along, and
the president signed a bill in December that failed to end
the tax breaks to oil companies.
"The energy bill that passed is not as good
as we wanted it to be," Mahoney said. "A lot of the tax
incentives that would have helped [the alternative energy]
industry were stripped out. The subsidies to big oil companies
will continue. But, hey, that's democracy."
Mahoney said he and some other House Democrats
want Congress to pass this year, despite election-year distractions,
a sequel to the energy bill that could end the oil industry
tax breaks. "Act 2 of the energy bill," he said, "will be
tops on our list."
Mahoney and Florida Agriculture Commissioner
Charlie Bronson addressed leaders of a group called "25x'25."
It's a consortium of farming interests that has the goal
of having agriculture generate roughly 25 percent of the
nation's energy needs by 2025 through such technologies
as converting citrus peels into ethanol.
The congressman said for America to wean itself
from the dependence on both foreign-produced and all fossil
fuels, which cause greenhouse gases that increase global
warming, new technologies for converting farm products to
fuel must be developed.
Mark Hollis can be reached at email@example.com
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