U.S. President Barack Obama
With oil and gas prices at the pump on his mind, President Barack Obama says Congress should kill tax breaks for the oil and gas industry and help develop alternative sources of energy.
Obama said Saturday in his weekly radio and Internet address that he expected Congress to consider in the next few weeks ending US$4 billion in tax subsidies, a move he has failed to persuade lawmakers to make during his term. He said the vote would put them on record on whether they “stand up for oil companies” or “stand up for the American people.”
“They can either place their bets on a fossil fuel from the last century or they can place their bets on America’s future,” Obama said.
Industry officials and many Republicans in Congress contend that cutting the tax breaks would lead to higher fuel prices, raising costs on oil companies and affecting their investments in exploration and production. The measure is considered a long shot, given that Obama couldn’t end the subsidies when Democrats controlled Congress earlier in his term.
Republican presidential candidates have accused Obama of delaying drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico and in a national wildlife refuge in Alaska and faulted him for not advancing the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries. They have also criticized policies pursued by the Environmental Protection Agency as inhibiting energy development.
Obama said there is no quick fix to high gas prices, which climbed to US$3.83 on Friday according to AAA, but he pushed back against critics who say he is opposed to more drilling. He said the U.S. is producing more oil than at any time in the past eight years and has quadrupled the number of operating oil rigs.
“If we’re truly going to make sure we’re not at the mercy of spikes in gas prices every year, the answer isn’t just to drill more, because we’re already drilling more,” Obama said. He said his administration was trying to develop wind and solar power, biofuels and usher in more fuel-efficient vehicles to make the nation less dependent on oil.