Climate bill architects Kerry, Lieberman vote against repealing oil industry tax breaks

By Sahil Kapur
Wednesday, June 16, 2010 9:00 EDT
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‘Substance is good, timing is wrong,’ Kerry’s office tells Raw Story

WASHINGTON – The two chief authors of the Senate energy and climate bill joined 20 other Democrats Tuesday evening to help defeat a motion that would have stripped $35 billion in special tax breaks for big oil companies.

Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I-CT) cast their votes against the amendment introduced by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) to H.R. 4213, the “American Jobs and Closing Tax Loopholes Act.” It failed 35-61.

Kerry, the Democrats’ designated crusader for clean energy reform and tough emissions regulations, said through a spokesman he was not opposed to the substance of the amendment, but rather the timing at which it was introduced.

“Senator Kerry supports closing tax loopholes for the oil and gas industry,” Kerry’s chief of staff David Wade e-mailed Raw Story, in response to a query. “However, the tax extenders bill is not the right vehicle for this reform because we need it included in comprehensive energy and climate legislation so they can help pay for the new tax incentives and investments for clean energy we are proposing.”

“He has introduced legislation to do so and has already succeeded in scaling back some of the loopholes including the manufacturing deduction for the oil and gas industry,” Wade said. “This was a simple case of needing this revenue for that fight in July.”

The Sanders amendment would have used the funds for debt reduction and efficiency programs. No Republicans voted for it.

Lieberman’s office did not return a request for comment.

In his Oval Office address Tuesday night, President Obama called on the Senate to pass an energy bill. “The time to embrace a clean energy future is now,” he said, invoking the calamities in the Gulf of Mexico as a result of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Absent from Obama’s speech was discussion of strong climate change provisions such as carbon caps or emissions taxes. It’s unclear whether the measure will include any such components.

The House passed its energy bill last summer, and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has said he intends to move on it in the upper chamber next month.

With Republicans absent from the negotiations and pledging to filibuster any legislation with carbon taxes or limits, Democrats are aiming lower and pushing primarily for strong clean energy investments.

This video is Sanders’s explanation of his amendment, uploaded to YouTube.

Sahil Kapur is Washington correspondent for Raw Story. He Tweets here.

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