US energy sector blasts Obama over oil comments

26 January 2011 18:41  [Source: ICIS news]

Energy industry blasts ObamaWASHINGTON (ICIS)--The US energy sector on Wednesday was sharply critical of President Barack Obama’s “state of the union” address, charging that the president was trying to demonise the petroleum industry and that he would stifle much-needed job growth.

In his annual address to Congress on Tuesday, Obama called for new government spending on biomedical research, information technology “and especially clean-energy technology” to help spur employment.

To pay for that new spending, Obama said, “I’m asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies”.

The National Petrochemical and Refiners Association (NPRA) charged that Obama was trying to vilify the nation’s petroleum producers and refiners.

“If his attack demonising the petroleum industry succeeds, it will destroy jobs instead of creating them,” said NPRA president Charles Drevna.

He said that in singling out the oil industry for higher taxes, the president would only succeed in “raising costs for consumers instead of lowering them, and require billions in taxpayer dollars to fund unending subsidies for untested technologies unable to survive on their own”.

“It makes no sense to destroy existing jobs held by hard-working Americans today in hopes of creating new jobs that may never materialise tomorrow,” Drevna added.

Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute (API) termed the president’s remarks “unfortunate” and challenged Obama’s suggestion that oil producers get special treatment under US tax laws.

“The US oil and natural gas industry pays taxes at effective rates far higher than most other industries,” Gerard said. 

He noted too that the nation’s energy producers “do not receive payments from the government to support oil and gas development”, a reference to federal subsidies and tariffs that support US biofuels manufacturing.

Gerard said that the taxpayer dollars that Obama described as being given to oil companies are the same tax deductions provided to other industries to encourage energy production and new jobs.

“It’s unfortunate that the administration seems poised to stifle what remains one of America’s strongest job creating industries,” Gerard said.

“The president focused on job growth through federal spending,” Gerard said, adding, “But he was silent on one of the best ways to create jobs: allow more energy development.”

Thomas Pyle, president of the energy industry-funded Institute for Energy Research (IER) charged that the Obama administration’s own policies and restrictions were impeding US energy development and employment growth.

“The president continues to talk about how America needs to become more competitive,” Pyle said.  “But this administration’s plans do noting but hurt our ability to compete.”

“We don’t have a competitiveness problem, an innovation problem or a resource availability problem,” he said, “we have a government problem.”

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