|Peter Bahouth, Executive Director
May 2, 2011
As gas prices continue to rise, President Obama and Senate Majority Leader Reid are calling for a repeal of unnecessary oil industry tax breaks. This sparked a Congressional debate as Exxon Mobil reported a first-quarter profit of $10.7 billion, a 69 percent jump from the year before.
According to Leader Reid, a top item on the Senate’s agenda after the two-week recess will be an effort to strip oil industry tax breaks. “We have to do something about these soaring gas prices. We need to take away the subsidies of these five major oil companies,” the Nevada Democrat told reporters last Thursday. His remarks came after President Obama sent a letter to House and Senate leadership calling for the repeal of “unwarranted tax breaks to oil and gas companies and invest the revenue into clean energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”
The issue was further heightened when House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) acknowledged – and later walked back from a comment—that larger companies could do without at least one of the federal tax breaks they currently receive. On Friday, Speaker Boehner rejected Democratic requests for a vote on legislation that would eliminate billions of dollars in oil industry tax breaks. The Speaker’s rejection of an oil subsidy vote comes after 29 House Democrats wrote a letter urging him to allow an up-or-down vote on a measure that would repeal the incentives.
In Clean Air Act news, the League of Women Voters launched an ad campaign Friday criticizing Senator Scott Brown for his vote to curb the Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to reduce carbon pollution. The League’s television spot accuses Brown, a Republican, of siding with polluters with his vote earlier this month that would have stripped EPA of its ability to regulate carbon pollution. A similar ad aimed at Democrat Senator Claire McCaskill will also air in Missouri. See more details at www.peoplenotpolluters.org.
The EPA officially noticed three hearings on the recently released Mercury Air Toxics Rule in Chicago, IL, Philadelphia, PA (May 24) and Atlanta, GA (May 26). Each hearing will run from 9:00AM- 8:00PM and the public may preregister to speak at the hearings at a specific time. The EPA rule would reduce mercury and other air toxics from power plants and improve public health. According to the American Lung Association’s State of the Air report released April 27, improvements have been made to the country’s air quality under the Clean Air Act. However, just over half the nation—154.5 million people—live in areas with levels of ozone and/or particle pollution that are often dangerous to breathe.
In international news, this past week the Green Climate Fund Transitional Committee met for the first time from April 28-29 in Mexico City. In order to scale up the provision of long-term financing for developing countries, governments at COP 16 in Cancun decided to establish a Green Climate Fund. The Transitional Committee selected by Parties to the UNFCCC, which will design the details of the new fund, comprises 40 members, with 15 members from developed country Parties and 25 members from developing country Parties.
Kate Smolski, Domestic Policy Director