Senate Votes to Keep Oil Subsidies Instead of Renewable Energy Incentives

The Senate voted against another chance to eliminate tax breaks from oil companies and apply those funds to extend renewable energy tax incentives and to reduce the US deficit.

In a 51-47 vote, Sen. Robert Menendez’s (D-NJ) bill was voted down. Although a majority voted in favor of the bill, it needed 60 votes to pass because of a Republican filibuster, which has been used to defeat just about every bill since President Obama entered office.

Two Republicans – Senators Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe from Maine voted to repeal the tax breaks. Four Democrats – Sens. Mark Begich (Alaska), Mary Landrieu (LA), Ben Nelson (NB) and Jim Webb (VA) – voted against the bill.

Just an hour before the vote, President Obama weighed in asking that they approve the bill.

Republicans says eliminating oil subsides would further raise gas prices, but a Congressional Research Service study shows it would have little to no impact on gasoline prices.

Obama and Democrats say oil companies don’t need the breaks, especially when they’re earning sky high profits. Those funds are needed to encourage renewable energy, which, as a newer technology needs the breaks.

Senator Menendez, who called continuing oil industry tax breaks "insanity," says, "It’s time to use the money for things that actually make sense," like boosting clean energy technologies that provide alternatives to petroleum and help the U.S. become a leader in these industries.

Removing oil industry incentives would raise $24 billion over 10 years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation, while extending renewable energy and efficiency incentives would cost $11.7 billion. 

"We ought to be supporting the clean energy entrepreneurs and American innovators who are developing ways we can reduce our addiction to oil, decrease pollution and improve our national security – not the giant oil conglomerates who are keeping us stuck in the past," says Scott Slesinger, legislative director of the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

Why gas prices are high and will continue to rise:

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Comments on “Senate Votes to Keep Oil Subsidies Instead of Renewable Energy Incentives”

  1. Navy_Chief

    What do we expect when our elected representatives can be bought, and the majority of voters believe watching “American Idol” or “Dancing with t Stars” is more important than getting money out of the legislative process.

  2. mathmuse

    This is just horrible. And the gas prices will continue to rise because big oil feels so well protected. There has got to be something that can be done to remove our legislators’ hands from the pockets of big corporations. Until that happens, we will continue to see the self-interest of these elected representatives trumping the interest of the American middle class.

  3. Chani S.

    Demand is down in USA, we producing more oil here at home. How can these “people” think that big oil needs this money. Congress rips us off all the time. We should flood them with messages demanding an explanation!

  4. Middle Class Worker

    Perhaps the Senate needs to feel our pain. Rejoining the middle class without a government job might just open there eyes a little. Maybe we can fill there seats with people who will think with OUR wallets instead of Big Oils bank accounts.

  5. Peter N.

    What’s the real problem? Our political financing system permits the opportunity to buy the votes of the legislator. There is no other logical answer to this vote. Oil company top execs have stated that above $45 per barrel they don’t need subsidies. Subsidies don’t affect the cost of gasoline at the pump one penny. Subsidies only increase the enourmous profits oil companies already have. So, what does it boil down to … The legislators who voted to continue the subsidies received almost 5 times the political financial support from the oil industry than did the other legislators. That’s the problem and that’s what must change.

  6. Percival

    We need to publish the names and districts of the people who voted to keep subsidies in place and flood their districts with this information via email,blogs,tweets to get the vote in the spotlight. We need to put faces to the oily 51

  7. egavas

    This bill wasn’t just about removing oil industry tax breaks, approximately $4B a year. It was about a transference of those funds to replace the expiring clean energy tax incentives. How many of these senators might have supported the elimination of the tax breaks as a financial savings for the country. Much is said of the profits of the oil companies, but it is never said clearly; i.e., are those gross profits or net profits; are the profits from U.S. sales or world-wide gains? Also dropped in the conversation is any correlation of increased profits to increased taxes. The government should laud profit making companies because their tax dollars help fuel the economy. In the meantime, just eliminate all subsidies in any form.

  8. egavas

    While we’re on this subject, one more consideration. The “tax break” often referred to as a subsidy for oil and gas is the manufacturing tax credit. All manufactures receive a 9% exemption on their revenues prior to paying the IRS; with one notable exception, oil and gas. These ecological unfriendly, vote buying controllers of the world economy only receive a 6% exemption (2/3 of the norm). Yet they continue to grow, developing more efficient means of extracting energy, creating jobs and wealth. Meanwhile, companies like Abound, Solyndra, Exer1 and Beacon, despite the infusion of hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars, have failed to create anything but bonuses for their now defunct management. The administration’s promise to create five million clean energy jobs was nothing more then pandering for votes. Obama’s continued use of taxpayer dollars in picking winners and losers in the energy field remains nothing more then “crony capitalism” at it’s worse.

  9. beejay

    As a shareholder in the energy sector, I can state unequivocally that the companies are not passing along their obscene (net) profits to the owners of their company stock. However, I, like many other owners, feel these companies do not need additional government subsidies to continue paying their upper management some of the highest salaries and bonuses in the country. And that the subsidies should be used for creation of more jobs in the renewable energy sector. Shame on those four Democrats who did not vote to eliminate the subsidies – it appears that not only energy management is a beneficiary of the obscene profits but also the senators of the ‘energy states’. I hope their constituents take notice.

  10. claudio esposito

    as long as our politicians are on the payroll of the oil companies and the NRA dont expect any other results.
    The blame Obama for the hight gas prices will get a powereful financing,the Keystone pipeline to allow selling of oil oversea is another farce.
    We need to covert cars and trucks to run on natural gas to begin with and we need to finance seriously any type of renewable. To achieve this start voting out of office the crooks on the payroll of the oil lobby and the NRA.
    God bless America,
    claudio esposito indialantic fl


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