The big Washington trade group representing BP and the other major oil companies says it has begun paying for TV ads in 10 states that attack the introduction of “new taxes” on the petroleum industry as part of comprehensive energy legislation.
The problem: the energy and climate bill currently before the Senate increases no taxes, and in fact, will save Americans money on their energy bills, according to a spokeswoman for one of the lawmakers who authored the legislation.
The American Petroleum Institute (API) announced Tuesday that it has begun running a series of 15- and 30-second television spots in 10 states during the month of July. They are running in Colorado, Michigan, North Carolina, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Maine, Missouri, Ohio and West Virginia, API says.
The ads feature working Americans’ responses to the potential for new taxes on the oil and natural gas industry, API says, adding that opposition to higher taxes remains strong among the public based on recent primary election results and opinion polling.
“Americans have historically been suspicious of taxes on the industry that produces most of the energy they consume,” Jack Gerard, president and CEO of API. “They deserve to be informed about new proposals that would increase those taxes by many billions of dollars a year. The ads are part of the national debate on energy and tax policy. We hope they will help ensure decisions affecting our economic and energy security are not made in a vacuum or based on incomplete information.”
The major energy and climate bill currently awaiting Senate consideration is the American Power Act, introduced by Sens. John Kerry (D-Mass.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.). The legislation would reduce U.S. dependence on fossil fuels, but it contains no taxes or tax increases, says Kerry spokeswoman Jodi Seth.
“As for those stubborn things called facts, there’s not a single tax in the American Power Act, and the non-partisan Peterson Institute and the ClimateWorks Foundation have already announced that the American Power Act reduces -– yes, reduces -– energy costs for families and protects consumers, especially those most at risk,” she says.
Neither Gerard, nor the API statement on the new TV ads, cites the American Power Act by name, or any specific provisions that contain taxes or tax increases.
Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) has vowed to bring clean energy legislation to the Senate floor in response to the monster BP oil disaster on the Gulf Coast. President Obama, too, also seeks enactment of energy and climate legislation. The president called for passage of such a bill in his televised Oval Office address on the BP spill, which is the worst such oil disaster in U.S. history.
The American Power Act would spend more than $6 billion per year to transform the U.S. transportation system to result in a 40-percent reduction in oil imports -– while saving Americans money at the pump, according to a Kerry factsheet on the bill.
The ClimateWorks Foundation analysis indicates that the American Power Act would save families $71 a year.
In fact, many large corporations have announced their support for the Kerry-Lieberman bill, including Duke Energy, NRG Energy, Nike and DuPont.
Despite outside business and interest-group backing, no Senate Republicans have announced their support for the American Power Act. The bill would require some GOP votes to overcome a Senate filibuster, and some Democrats, including Sens. Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia and Carl Levin of Michigan, announced their opposition.
The publisher of the news site On The Hill, Scott Nance has covered Congress and the federal government for more than a decade.