In their letter to the Speaker, the Representatives said they were acknowledging the Speaker's statement earlier in the week that he was "open to eliminating unnecessary tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry." They said, "We agree with you that, especially in an era of high gas prices and high profits, the big oil companies don't need all of the generous subsidies that taxpayers currently provide." The said their legislation (H.R.601) reserves the subsidies for small independent producers, but "would save roughly $40 billion over the next 5 years."
In their letter the House Democrats said, "President Obama has written to Congress urging us to pass legislation to eliminate unwarranted tax breaks for the oil companies. This position is shared by a majority of the Democratic Caucus, as evidenced by the vote on the Motion to Recommit on H.J. Res. 44 (Roll Call 153), and by 74 percent of the American public according to recent opinion polls. You may hear concern from some in your caucus that closing tax loopholes for the oil companies will raise gas prices. As you know, this is not the case. The Joint Economic Committee and other experts have determined that closing tax loopholes for the big oil companies will not increase consumer energy prices. Since the price of oil is set on the world market, the subsidies we provide in this country only do one thing: increase oil company profits.
"Oil prices are sufficiently high for companies to explore and drill without incentives. In the words of former President George W. Bush, 'I will tell you with $55 oil we don't need incentives to oil and gas companies to explore.' Today prices are double that amount, making tax incentives even less necessary. As Exxon Mobil, BP and other big oil companies announce record profits in the coming days, we urge you to schedule an up-or-down vote on the House Floor providing members with the opportunity to vote to repeal some of the most egregious tax subsidies. With gas prices on the rise, we would welcome the opportunity to show our constituents that Congress is ready to stop wastefully subsidizing some of the most profitable businesses in the world and instead use that money to reduce the deficit and invest in real relief from high gas prices."
- The Enhanced SPR Act (H.R.1017), which would help consumers at the pump by deploying a small amount of our nation's Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR), and strengthen the reserves by later adding refined petroleum product like gasoline when prices subside.
- The USE IT Act (H.R.927), would impose a fee on oil companies to pressure them to begin drilling on the tens of millions of acres of public land where we know there is oil and they are not producing.
- The Implementing the Recommendations of the BP Oil Spill Commission Act (H.R.501), to increase safety in the offshore oil industry.