When $2.50 a gallon just isn't enough

George W. Bush says oil companies don't need any more incentive to explore; House Republicans, together with some Democrats, apparently disagree.

Published April 19, 2005 1:34PM (EDT)

With gas prices what they are, you wouldn't think that the oil companies need any additional incentive to go looking for more sources of crude. That's the way George W. Bush figures it, too. In a speech last week, the president said that, with oil going for $55 a barrel, "we don't need incentives to oil and gas companies to explore."

But that won't stop some members of the House of Representatives from doing whatever they can to fatten the pockets of the energy companies. As the Washington Post reports this morning, the House Ways and Means Committee has approved $8 billion in new tax breaks for energy companies, a "large portion" of which would go to the oil and natural gas companies. As the Post explains, the House bill is far more generous to producers of "traditional," non-renewable energy sources than the president's proposal was. Bush wanted to give $6.7 billion in tax breaks to energy companies, with nearly three-fourths of the money going toward renewable energy and energy efficiency. The House plan: $8 billion for the energy companies, with only 6 percent of it going to renewable energy and energy efficient.

One Republican on the committee said he voted in favor of the bill to give House leaders negotiating room when they work out a compromise bill with the Senate. As for the five Democrats who voted in favor of the bill in committee? We're waiting to hear their excuse.

By Tim Grieve

Tim Grieve is a senior writer and the author of Salon's War Room blog.

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