Washington, DC – They've complained about big oil profits for years while in the minority, AND in their new role as Congressional majority Democrats today (Thursday) stuck it to oil companies in a major way - saving one of their most partisan bills for the last of their first 100-hours agenda. From Washington, Neil Simon reports.
The new bill is the Democrat way of getting federal money from an energy industry seeing record profits.
It would end tax relief on oil construction and end subsidies on government royalties companies owe for producing oil and gas on public lands.
Democrats see the bill generating 14 billion dollars over 10 years for alternative energy.
But Republicans, like Rob Bishop, say it will motivate energy companies to do more of their work overseas.
BISHOP: The last time you went after the oil companies big time you simply force to stop exploring in the United States - which means now we are more dependent on foreign oil than we ever were before.
Democrats energy experts have told them the tax increases in the bill will not halt domestic production. Utah Democrat Jim Matheson agrees. He sits on the house energy committee and represents one of the most energy-rich parts of the mountain west.
The last on-shore natural gas play that exists in this country is in the Rocky Mountains in Utah, Colorado, Wyoming and so I think you will continue to see production in the natural gas area from that as well as oil.
Under the plan Companies producing oil in the Gulf of Mexico that pay no royalties now would have to pay a 9-dollar a barrel surcharge when oil prices reach 35 dollars.
Congressman Bishop says the bill shows Democrats grabbing for headlines.
BISHOP: This is once again something that sounds really good because you can stick it to a company that's making lots of money and they are - but at the same time the question should be, how do we become energy independent - not necessarily how do you stick it to a company that's providing energy.
The bill now heads to the senate. The president plans to talk up his national alternative energy plans Tuesday in the state of the union address. From Capitol Hill, I'm Neil Simon KUER News.