Oil Tax Increase By Congress Would Fund Federal Cleanup, Response To Oil Spills-(The People Get Raped Again!)

Monday, May 24, 2010
By Paul Martin

STEPHEN OHLEMACHER
HuffingtonPost.com
05/24/10

WASHINGTON — Responding to the massive BP oil spill, Congress is getting ready to quadruple – to 32 cents a barrel – a tax on oil used to help finance cleanups. The increase would raise nearly $11 billion over the next decade.

The tax is levied on oil produced in the U.S. or imported from foreign countries. The revenue goes to a fund managed by the Coast Guard to help pay to clean up spills in waterways, such as the Gulf of Mexico.

The tax increase is part of a larger bill that has grown into a nearly $200 billion grab bag of unfinished business that lawmakers hope to complete before Memorial Day. The key provisions are a one-year extension of about 50 popular tax breaks that expired at the end of last year, and expanded unemployment benefits, including subsidies for health insurance, through the end of the year.

The House could vote on the bill as early as Wednesday, though Democrats were still working Monday to round up the votes. Democratic leaders had wanted to hold a vote Tuesday.

There has been little public opposition to the oil tax from the petroleum industry. But the overall bill would add about $134 billion to the federal budget deficit, drawing opposition from Republicans and some Democrats.

Senate leaders hope to complete work on the bill before Congress goes on a weeklong break next week. The Obama administration issued a statement Monday supporting the bill.

Lawmakers want to increase the current 8-cent-a-barrel tax on oil to make sure there is enough money available to respond to oil spills. At least 6 million gallons of crude have spewed into the Gulf of Mexico since a drilling rig exploded April 20 off the Louisiana coast.

President Barack Obama and congressional leaders have said they expect BP to foot the bill for the cleanup.

“Taxpayers will not pick up the tab,” Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said Monday.

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