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House to vote next week on energy tax bill

Legislation would levy $18 billion in taxes on big oil companies to help pay for extending renewable energy tax credits.
/ Source: Reuters

The House of Representatives will vote next week on legislation that would levy $18 billion in taxes on big oil companies to help pay for extending renewable energy tax credits, Democratic leaders said on Thursday.

The legislation includes tax credits to promote renewable energy production from wind, solar, geothermal, cellulosic ethanol, biofuels and other sources. Many of the tax credits will expire at the end of this year.

The vote on the bill comes as crude oil prices hit a record high this week and gasoline costs are rising.

"With the price of oil above $100 a barrel, this Congress is again taking action to reduce our dependence on foreign oil and support the domestic production of renewable energy," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

To fund the renewable energy tax credits, the legislation would repeal some $18 billion in tax breaks for big energy companies.

"The American taxpayer should not be subsidizing oil and gas companies during times of record profits and record prices at the pump," Rep. Charles Rangel, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said last week when he introduced the energy tax package.

Big Oil opposes the legislation, arguing it is unfair to target oil companies with higher taxes that will discourage investment in oil and gas production.

Under the bill, energy companies would no longer be able to exclude a certain portion of their oil and gas production income from U.S. taxes and would have to pay U.S. taxes on some foreign income that also was taxed in the country where it was earned.

The energy tax package is similar to language that was dropped from a broad energy bill Congress passed and was signed into law in December.

The White House and Senate Republicans opposed levying new taxes on energy companies at the time, and it is unclear if there are the required 60 senators in that 100-member chamber to block a filibuster of the legislation.

The bill also would give consumers $4,000 tax credits for buying plug-in hybrid vehicles, extend tax credits for installing certain energy-efficient appliances and increases tax credits for gas stations that install pumps for dispensing alternative fuels.