WASHINGTON, June 15 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) today urged the Senate to repeal $35 billion in oil and gas industry tax breaks.
In a letter to colleagues, Sanders made the case for his amendment to a tax bill now before the Senate. The same loopholes were targeted for elimination by President Obama in his proposed budget for next year.
“Over the last decade, the five largest oil companies (Exxon Mobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP and Shell) made more than $750 billion in profits. These profitable companies simply don't deserve tax relief,” Sanders said in a letter to other senators. “With a record-breaking $13 trillion national debt and an unsustainable federal deficit, the last thing we should be doing is giving tax breaks to oil and gas companies that have been making enormous profits.”
The Sanders amendment would devote $25 billion of the savings to deficit reduction. The remaining $10 billion would fund an Energy Efficiency Conservation Block Grant Program, a Sanders proposal created by the 2007 energy bill. “The energy-efficiency investments would lead to the creation of at least 140,000 jobs and would reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Sanders said.
The amendment is cosponsored by Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.). Organizations supporting the amendment include the League of Conservation Voters, the Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, MoveOn.Org, Union of Concerned Scientists, Public Citizen, Physicians for Social Responsibility and others.
“It is beyond comprehension that, according to reports, Exxon Mobil, the most profitable corporation in the world, not only paid no U.S. taxes last year, but also received a $156 million tax refund,” Sanders said. Other companies that took advantage of tax loopholes in 2009, according to reports on file at the Securities and Exchange Commission, include Chevron, which received a $19 million tax refund; and Valero Energy, which received a $157 million from the IRS. Independent oil and gas companies which made a combined $3.7 billion in profits in the first quarter of 2010 and $25.7 billion in revenue also received generous tax breaks from the IRS.
“This amendment is a win for deficit reduction. It is a win for job creation. It is a win for the environment. And, it is a win for consumers who will save money on their energy bills because they will be consuming less energy,” Sanders said.