The Skywriter

Another windfall for Big Oil


Another windfall for Big Oil

Oil refinery

For the second time in the less than a week, Big Oil has managed to dodge any accountability for rising energy costs or climate change.

Earlier today, Senate Republicans killed a measure that would’ve forced oil companies to pay their fair share in taxes and encouraged investment in renewable energy:

The bill, almost identical to one Democratic leaders introduced last month, was packed with several provisions Democrats know are non-starters for most Republicans, including a tax on profits higher than 10 percent above a past average — the so-called windfall profits tax — and language to roll back $17 billion in tax breaks for oil companies.

The bill would’ve excluded profits earned from renewable energy from the windfall tax, thus encouraging investment in this sector. In addition, it would’ve made oil and gas price gouging a federal crime, with stiff penalties of up to $5 million during a presidentially declared energy emergency, and required traders to put up more collateral in the energy futures markets to curb speculation.

Though much of the discussion revolved around lowering gas prices, in a way the scope of this debate was simply too narrow. The goal shouldn’t be simply to lower gas prices in the short term: It should be to begin investing in a post-fossil fuel economy that will spare us the whims of the market and help us tackle global warming by curbing emissions.

But once again, Big Oil has managed to short-circuit even modest efforts like this and the Lieberman-Warner bill. Given the power that the oil companies wield right now, it’s clear nothing will change in Washington until we build a movement that will make our leaders do the right thing.

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