Pelosi, Bush Battle on Oil-For-Renewables Tax Package

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 28 Feb 2008 20:33:00 GMT

The Democratic House leadership sent a letter today challenging Bush to sign the House oil-for-renewables tax package (H.R. 5351) passed by their chamber yesterday.
Promotion of the renewable energy industry is the goal of the Washington International Renewable Energy Conference, which your Administration hosts next week. The conference offers a remarkable world platform to support a fiscally responsible commitment to these industries and technologies and the jobs they will produce. We urge you to reconsider your previous opposition to fiscally sound incentives for American renewable energy, and lend your support to this historic legislation in time for this occasion.

At today’s press conference, President Bush parried a question about his threatened veto of bill (after admitting ignorance about the likely $4 gallon gas this spring).

He claimed the cost-neutral bill would “cost the consumers more money and we need more oil and gas being explored for, we need more drilling, we need less dependence on foreign oil.” With respect to renewable energy, he discussed cellulosic ethanol and other biofuels, nuclear energy, and carbon sequestration, but not solar, wind, or energy efficiency.

QUESTION: Mr. President, back to the oil price tax breaks that you were talking about a minute ago.

Back when oil was $55 a barrel you said those tax breaks were not needed, people had plenty of incentive to drill for oil. Now the price of oil is $100 a barrel and you’re planning to threaten a plan that would shift those tax breaks to renewables. Why, sir?

BUSH: I talk about some — some — of the breaks. This generally is a tax increase. And it doesn’t make any sense to do it right now. We need to be exploring for more oil and gas.

And taking money out of the coffers of the oil companies will make it harder for them to reinvest.

I know — they say, “Well, look at all the profits.” Well, we’re raising the price of gasoline in a time when the price of gasoline is high.

Secondly, we’ve invested a lot of money in renewables. This administration has done more for renewables than any president.

Now, we’ve got a problem with renewables, and that is the price of corn is beginning to affect food — cost of food and, you know, it’s hurting hog farmers and a lot of folks.

And the best way to deal with renewables is to focus on research and development that will enable us to — to use other raw material to produce ethanol.

I’m a strong believer in ethanol. This administration’s got a great record on it.

But it is — I believe research and development’s what’s going to make renewable fuels more effective.

Again, I repeat: If you look at what’s happened in corn out there, you’re beginning to see the food — the food issue and the energy issue collide. And so to me the best dollar spent is to continue to deal with cellulosic ethanol in order to deal with this bottleneck right now.

And secondly, the — yes, I said that a while ago — on certain aspects.

But the way I analyze this bill is it’s going to cost the consumers more money and we need more oil and gas being explored for, we need more drilling, we need less dependence on foreign oil.

And as I say, we’re in a period of transition here in America, from a time where we were — where we are oil and gas dependent to hopefully a time where we got electric automobiles, and we’re spending money to do that; a time when we’re using more biofuels and we take huge investments in that; a time where we’ve got nuclear power plants and we’re able to deal with the disposal in a way that brings confidence to the American people so we’re not dependent on natural gas to fire up our — you know, a lot of our utilities; and a time when we can sequester coal.

That’s where we’re headed for but we’ve got to do something in the interim. Otherwise we’re going to be dealing, as the man said, with $4 gasoline.

And so, that’s why I’m against that bill.

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