EDITOR’S NOTE: The following is an opinion editorial submitted by Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah. The opinions are solely his and not those of St. George News.
OPINION – With cash-strapped Americans facing gas prices of $4 per gallon and the prospect of having to choose between buying food and fuel, President Obama has decided to take action – against U.S. energy producers.
No, that is not a misprint. In his 2013 fiscal year budget, the President calls for a $90 billion tax hike on U.S. energy companies by eliminating what he calls “subsidies” but which are actually tax deductions and credits available to all U.S. manufacturers.
Speaking in New Hampshire, the President said, “I am asking Congress (to) eliminate this oil industry giveaway right away… Let’s put every single member of Congress on record: You can stand with the oil companies, or you can stand up for the American people.”
I’m not sure how engaging in class warfare qualifies as “standing up” for the American people. I can say with certainty that it won’t lower gas prices; it will make them even higher. And higher taxes will create less, not more, energy.
American energy companies already pay the federal government roughly $86 million per day in taxes, rents, bonuses and royalties. They are taxed at 41 percent, a rate that is 55 percent higher than that paid by other industrial companies. If they are forced to pay more, they will pass those cost increases on to consumers.
In a 2010 study, the Congressional Research Service determined that tax hikes similar to what the President is now pushing would likely increase gas prices, decrease exploration and production and make us even more dependent on foreign oil.
Louisiana State University economist, Joseph Mason, was even blunter, saying if the tax deductions were eliminated last year, it would have resulted in $341 billion in lower economic output, $68 billion in wage cuts and cost more than 154,000 jobs.
And who will be hurt the most? Well, the ugly truth is the President is pushing an energy policy that is aimed at increasing costs, while cynically professing to stand shoulder to shoulder with those who can least afford those price hikes. To appease its environmental elitist allies, the Administration is clamping down on our nation’s fossil fuel industry and conjuring up visions of utopia, of a distant golden era of green energy where, among other things, algae will replace oil.
That’s why the White House talks about artificially driving up gas prices to European levels. It explains why the Administration is locking up oil exploration and production on public lands in Utah and across the nation, as well as drilling off our coasts. And it accounts for why the President has killed the Keystone XL pipeline that would create 20,000 jobs and carry 700,000 barrels of Canadian crude oil per day – 4 percent of our nation’s total consumption –to the U.S.
In North Dakota, the Administration has sued seven oil companies for the death of 28 birds, this while fast-tracking approval of wind turbines that, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, killed an estimated 440,000 birds in 2009.
Look, I’m a strong advocate for solar, wind and other energy alternatives. But that will take time, and currently more than 95 percent of our planes, trains, ships and automobiles run on oil. Pretending otherwise and pushing an anti-oil agenda is not only delusional, but it is dangerous.
Simply put, this White House does not feel consumers’ pain at the gas pump. It wants to force its anti-oil agenda on the American people, even if it hurts the economy, puts thousands out of work and jeopardizes our national security.
To put a stop to this, I continue to battle the White House on this issue at every turn. Utahns and other Americans want a President who fights for, not against them. If this President insists on carrying on with this quixotic energy quest at America’s expense, it may well become his political Waterloo.
— Sen. Orrin Hatch
Copyright 2012 St. George News.