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Big Ethanol
Posted By:  - 10/13/10

Robert Bryce has a great piece on ethanol in The Examiner.  If you haven't read it, please do so.  Here are the closing paragraphs:

It's time to end the corn ethanol boondoggle. Despite decades of lavish subsidies, ethanol has done nothing to cut oil imports. Rather than further compound the mistakes that have already been made by increasing the volume of ethanol in the U.S. motor fuel supply, the EPA and Congress should recognize that ethanol is not, and has never been, an energy program.

Instead, it is a pernicious example of how agriculture subsidies are promulgated and expanded for the benefit of the few at the expense of the many.

I could not agree more.

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Drilling to Resume
Posted By:  - 10/12/10

According to the Wall Street Journal, the Obama Administration has lifted its ban on deep-water drilling. Good news, right? Well, yes, but we’re still unsure about the timeline and when oil rigs will actually be able to resume. That’s because the Department of the Interior is requiring rig operators to comply with all post-spill safety regulations, and verify that they own equipment to contain a blowout, before application approvals are granted.

It’s a step in the right direction, but the Administration’s decision may have deeper implications than what’s apparent at first glance. Officials in the oil and natural gas industry have said these new regulations could “sharply escalate the costs of operating in U.S. waters.” And while the ban has been lifted over a month before the target date of November 30, there is a good chance rig operators will not return to work before then. Michael Bromwich, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and Enforcement, emphasized that “the pace of approvals will depend on the quality of companies’ applications and whether they adhere to the new safeguards.” Considering the speed at which our ever-growing federal government tends to operate, is this statement concerning to anyone else?

It also comes at a fairly convenient time for vulnerable Members of Congress along the Gulf Coast who continue to face an embattled economy and disgruntled constituents. Given our current economic climate, it’s inexcusable for our government to threaten jobs as well as the opportunity to generate an influx of revenue that could go toward paying off other liabilities and, you know, our $13 trillion debt. We all want rig operators to exercise safety precautions, and sincerely hope the underlying cause of the spill is corrected to avoid another tragedy, but stopping drilling altogether is not the answer.

Let’s give the Obama Administration the benefit of the doubt and (cautiously) commend them for lifting the deep-water drilling ban. At the same time, it’s imperative that we urge them to commit to expediting the permit review process. It’s the right thing to do…for jobs, for families, and for America’s entire economy.

For those of you who are interested, here is the safety report issued by Interior Secretary Ken Salazar back in May. It outlines many of the regulations for which oil rigs will now be responsible.

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Pennsylvania House passes largest natural gas tax in the nation
Posted By:  - 10/01/10

As a native of Pennsylvania, it pains me to single out my home state for pushing unwise tax and spending policies. Unfortunately, the politicians who run the state and local governments leave me with little choice but to speak out.

Earlier this week, the Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a bill that would impose a severance tax on natural gas at a rate of 39 cents per 1,000 cubic feet of gas, which would be the nation’s highest such tax. We here at NTU sent a letter to the House in opposition to the tax. The bill passed on Wednesday by a vote of 104-94. But the fate of this tax is uncertain because the State Senate opposes such a high rate. Senate President Pro Tempore Joe Scarnati has told reporters that his chamber is seriously looking at Arkansas’ approach. In Arkansas, natural gas extraction is taxed at a rate of 1.5 percent for three years to allow energy companies to recoup investments, and then it increases to five percent.  

Currently, Pennsylvania levies no such tax. Recent advances in natural gas exploration technology have opened up the Marcellus Shale, a vast natural gas field buried beneath Pennsylvania and other states. Energy companies are lining up to take advantage of this newly accessible resource. Marcellus projects have already created thousands of jobs and yielded more than $1 billion in tax revenues. A study by Penn State University estimates that continued development would provide 111,000 new jobs and $987 million in revenues by 2011. Moreover, these new jobs cut across the energy, manufacturing, service, and retail sectors.

But that kind of economic growth is not enough for Governor Ed Rendell and the other tax and spenders in Harrisburg, who want to a bigger cut from the wealth to pay for their pet projects and programs. Here is why, according to the Pittsburg Tribune-Review:

“Gas production from a typical Marcellus shale well drops dramatically over the first year, starting out at higher than 3,500 mcf, or thousand cubic feet, per day initially, and dropping over the first 12 to 15 months to less than 1,000 mcf per day, according to a Range Resources presentation on its website.”

“At that rate, with the House-approved tax, a typical well would start out generating $1,363 per day and then drop to $390 per day after 12 to 15 months. With the Senate proposal for a 1.5 percent tax for the first three years, the well would raise about $210 daily, based on today's gas prices.” 

The problem is that the high tax the House proposes may stifle natural gas development and economic growth. According to the Commonwealth Foundation, which has created a website devoted to energy issues here, states with high severance taxes, such as West Virginia, have not experienced as much growth in the energy sector, including job creation, as states with lower or no severance taxes. By levying the nation’s highest severance tax on natural gas, Pennsylvania’s politicians could actually impede or ruin the Commonwealth’s opportunity to cash in on this amazing find. Hopefully, Pennsylvania’s State Senate will stand firm against this proposal.

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Washing Away Energy Tax Myths in Washington State
Posted By:  - 09/27/10

In the political arena, people often criticize others without researching the facts or by just plain ignoring reality.   It’s not surprising then that the partisans with the Washington State Democrats did just that when they incorrectly linked the National Taxpayers Union’s (NTU’s) work on a campaign fighting against energy tax hikes to the Contract from America.

To set the record straight, NTU led the effort to oppose energy tax increases by reaching out to citizens nationwide (along with supplemental efforts in Washington and elsewhere) to encourage them to contact their Senators. The participation at a grassroots level was overwhelming, and our members’ input helped block Senator Bill Nelson’s recent attempt to increase taxes on hardworking families.

In fact, NTU’s energy ads have nothing to do with Dino Rossi or the Contract from America; they have everything to do with protecting taxpayers. Furthermore, to contend that Rossi was “rewarded” because he signed the Contract from America is misleading.  NTU’s ad campaign did not harm or reward any candidates; rather, it was launched to alert every American to a major fiscal policy issue and give them the information they needed to take action.  NTU’s mission has always been and will remain to help to protect every single American’s right to keep what they’ve earned. 

Before circulating baseless assertions in the future, we encourage the Washington State Democrats to do their homework and get the facts right.  Doing anything less discredits their work and provides a disservice to the taxpayers of Washington. And those taxpayers deserve better.

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Reid's Energy Policy: Would Someone Please Change Channels?
Posted By: Pete Sepp - 09/24/10

It may be premiere season for many favorite TV programs, but in Harry Reid’s Senate, it looks like nothing but reruns – bad reruns.

Just over a week ago, the Senate Majority Leader said that a costly federal renewable energy standard (RES) would “absolutely” be under consideration as the Senate attempts to churn out a few more pieces of legislation before the end of the year. This week, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) and Sen. Sam Brownback (R-KS) announced that they will be introducing a stand-alone federal RES rather than combining it with other bills.

These statements might not have garnered so much media attention if the Senate hadn’t already tuned out this terrible program, and that’s primarily because an RES simply hasn’t had the support in the Senate or in the public.  One reason why it hasn’t gained much traction is because an RES would undoubtedly raise energy costs for taxpayers by forcing every state to use expensive and often unavailable, mandated renewable sources.

 Apparently the reruns will keep coming. Sen. Reid’s team has said the renewable energy standard might have the best chance of passage during a lame-duck session, after the American people have already voiced their opposition to the scheme and to the lawmakers who back it. In other words, a federal renewable energy standard is such bad policy that if they passed it before an election, they would all surely be voted out by the public.

And for good reason. In April, NTU produced a map showing the severity of the economic damage to each state as a result of the proposed federal RES. To determine the severity, we looked at each state’s unemployment rate as of February 2010, the net electricity generation by coal, the projected increase in electricity bills by 2030 because of an RES, the projected loss of jobs by 2030, and how much of a state’s electricity generation meets Congress’s definition of “renewable.”

We found that almost every state will suffer to some degree as a result of federally mandated energy sources, but the states with higher unemployment rates will hurt the most because they, generally speaking, tend to rely more on traditional sources like coal in the first place. When you add the higher costs of renewable energy, the result is disastrous for many states.

Check out our data and see for yourself. Then, tell Harry Reid that America can’t afford a federal renewable energy standard, regardless of how many times he reruns it.

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National Virtual Rally for Jobs
Posted By:  - 09/23/10

Thousands rallied for jobs in Texas, Ohio, New Mexico, Illinois and Colorado, but it’s not too late to participate if you don’t live in one of those five states. All this week Americans (165, 911 to be exact!) have been joining the National Virtual Rally for Jobs to take our message straight to lawmakers in Washington and protest efforts to hike taxes on the oil and natural gas that fuels our economy. You can too!

The message is clear: Americans want jobs, not taxes!

  • We want smart energy policies that promote domestic resources;
  • We want smart energy policies that protect and create jobs; and
  • We want smart energy policies that preserve and enhance our energy security.

Nothing beats the power of grassroots activism and it is up to you to speak up and let your voice be heard. Visit www.rallyforjobs.org and join in the march! We need your help to fight these harmful tax proposals. Our economic future depends on it.

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Senate Rejects Job-Killing Tax Hike New 1099 reporting requirements remain
Posted By:  - 09/15/10

Yesterday, the Senate voted on two amendments that addressed the new 1099 reporting requirements in the health care law. The mandate requires businesses to submit 1099 forms for all purchased goods and services costing $600 or more, thereby subjecting businesses to even more burdensome regulations.

Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL) introduced an amendment (to the small business bill) that would have merely scaled back the new reporting requirements, while imposing a massive, discriminatory tax hike to supposedly “pay for” his proposal. Senator Nelson’s amendment would have eliminated the 199 section in the tax code that allows all domestic manufacturers to deduct six percent of their income, but only for American oil companies. Increased costs would have inevitably been passed down to consumers in the form of higher gas prices and electricity bills, and could have also endangered many jobs connected with an industry that employs or supports nine million Americans.

Senator Mike Johanns (R-NE) introduced an amendment to fully repeal the new 1099 mandate without raising taxes.

We sent a Vote Alert to Senate offices urging a NO vote on the Nelson Amendment and a YES vote on the Johanns Amendment. Both amendments failed.

The Senate is likely to vote on final passage of the small business lending bill by the end of the week.

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Colorado Rally for Jobs
Posted By:  - 09/09/10

There is only one more live Rally for Jobs remaining, and Coloradoans, it's at a location near you!

Colorado will be hosting the final Rally for Jobs tomorrow, September 10, at Two Rivers Convention Center in Grand Junction to protest legislation that would further threaten our already embattled economy and energy security. Speakers include Rick Thurtle, Century 21 Realtor and TV Personality; Reeves Brown, Executive Director, Club 20; Denny Behrens, Colorado Mule Deer Association and Colorado Bow Hunters Association; Jim West, President and CEO Jim West Builder, Inc and Old West Oil Field Services; Diane Schwenke, President and CEO Grand Junction Area Chamber of Commerce; John Justman, Self Employed Farmer and Mesa County Planning Commission; Mathew Burtis, Business Manager of the United Association of Plumbers and Pipefitters; Bonnie Petersen, Green Star Homes; and Diane Miller, Vice President, Shaw Construction.

Join activists from your state and NTU members at a Rally for Jobs to send a message back to Washington: NO to higher taxes that will increase unemployment and shove our economy into the ditch!

Doors open at 11am. We'll see you there!

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New Mexico and Illinois Rally for Jobs
Posted By:  - 09/03/10

Hey, New Mexico and Illinois!

In keeping with our efforts to fight proposed energy taxes through ad campaigns and grassroots activism, we want to make you aware of two additional rallies at locations near you:

New Mexico will be hosting a Rally for Jobs next Wednesday, September 8, at McGee Park in Farmington to protest legislation that would further threaten our already embattled economy and energy security. Speakers include Marita Noon, Executive Director, Citizens Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE); Dr. James Henderson, San Juan County Commissioner and Former President, San Juan College; and Rep. Tom Taylor (R-San Juan County), Minority Leader, New Mexico House of Representatives.

Illinois will be hosting their Rally for Jobs on Wednesday, September 8, at Pipefitters Training Center in Mokena. Speakers include Jim Roolf, "Mr. Will County;” James Sweeney, International Union of Operating Engineers; Joe Cook, Mayor of Channahon; Mike Ditka, Former Chicago Bears Player and Coach; Brian Kasal, Illinois Energy Forum; and John Grueling, Will County Center For Economic Development.

Doors open at 11:00am. Visit www.rallyforjobs.org for more details!

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NTU Campaign to Fight Energy Taxes
Posted By: Pete Sepp - 09/03/10

Despite a poor forecast for economic recovery this year, the Senate may soon repeal tax provisions specifically designed to encourage domestic employment, while simultaneously hitting U.S. energy companies with new taxes that will place their overseas counterparts at a competitive advantage. In response to these proposals, NTU launched a new nationwide TV and radio ad campaign to educate taxpayers about the negative economic impacts of these proposed tax hikes.

The most significant of the new tax increases would eliminate the “dual capacity” tax credits currently enjoyed by all U.S. companies – but only for the oil and gas industry. In addition to costing jobs, this selective double tax will work to the benefit of state-owned energy companies in places like Venezuela, China and Russia. And further confounding logic, these tax increases could actually erode the $160 billion in annual tax revenues the industry already provides to government coffers, as the position of U.S. companies abroad is financially weakened.

Unfortunately, this outrageous double tax for American energy isn’t the end of Washington’s whack-a-mole game. In a supreme twist of irony, the Senate is scheduled to vote on a proposal September 14th that would attach additional job-killing energy taxes to the “Small Business Jobs” bill. An amendment from Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) would eliminate the Section 199 manufacturers’ deduction, but again, only for the oil and gas industry. This deduction was put in place for the explicit purpose of domestic job creation; hardly ideal compared to reforming the whole monstrous corporate tax code, but moderately helpful in offsetting high rates.

The oil and gas sector employs or supports 9 million Americans and a trillion dollars of economic activity annually. Reliable, affordable energy supplies also reduce costs and instability across the economy as a whole. New taxes that reduce production and increase expenses ultimately fall on the backs of all consumers and businesses – not just the oil and gas industry.

If we let Congress get away with this, the predatory tax proposals will keep coming, and it will get tougher to extend all of the vital 2001 and 2003 tax relief laws. That’s why our ad campaign – and our grassroots mobilization effort – is going full throttle. We urge citizens to take action now!

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