Sept. 20, 2014 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Energy Interests Step up Efforts to Defend Tax Breaks

Grassley reiterated that the American Wind Energy Association and other wind supporters have acknowledged that the credit cannot be permanent, echoing the four-year time frame put forth by Brownback. Grassley suggested the credit could be reduced by 20 percent a year until it expires.

The oil and gas industry also is working to make sure that it doesn’t get left behind in fiscal talks. On Tuesday, the American Petroleum Institute announced a new phase of its two-year campaign to defend the billions of dollars of tax breaks its members receive annually.

Khary Cauthen, senior director of federal relations for the industry group, said the ads are intended to remind lawmakers and their constituents about the oil and gas industry’s contributions to the U.S. economy.

“More energy development produces more jobs, revenue and energy,” he told reporters on a conference call. “More taxes produce less of all three.”

The Obama administration and congressional Democrats have long sought to cancel billions of dollars of tax breaks enjoyed by the industry. In recent months, some leading Republicans have indicated the breaks may be on the table in talks aimed at averting year-end tax increases and budget cuts and overhauling the tax code.

The tax breaks were reported to have been among the potential revenue sources that a bicameral deficit reduction committee was discussing last year, before those talks fell apart.

API senior tax adviser Brian Johnson said the industry is willing to discuss its tax breaks in the context of a larger corporate tax overhaul, but he said the matter is too complex to be addressed in the lame-duck session that started Tuesday.

“Any conversations to eliminate our deductions in the context of lame duck is a tax increase and will be treated and opposed as such,” he said. “When and if Congress decides to address true corporate tax reform, API and our members stand ready to work with policy makers and achieve the goal of a pro-growth, non-discriminatory tax system.”

Johnson said the group is reaching out to lawmakers and their staffs — including members of the tax-writing committees and House and Senate leadership in both chambers — to remind them of the industry’s contributions to the U.S. economy. Cauthen estimated the industry pays $86 million in revenues to the federal government every day.

Canceling some of the tax breaks, he maintained, amounts to an “invitation to push American investment and jobs overseas.”

The new phase of the campaign includes print and television ads within the beltway and the energy producing states of Alaska, Louisiana, Arkansas, New Mexico, Colorado, North Carolina and Virginia, to name a few.

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