x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Third plea over clean energy

The Obama administration for the third time asks the US congress to remove tax breaks for oil and gas companies.

The Obama administration has for a third time asked the US Congress to remove tax breaks for oil and gas companies, saying federal spending could be better directed to boosting clean energy initiatives.

"I'm asking Congress to eliminate the billions in taxpayer dollars we currently give to oil companies," the US President Barack Obama said on Tuesday in his state of the union address.

"I don't know if you've noticed, but they're doing just fine on their own. So instead of subsidising yesterday's energy, let's invest in tomorrow's."

A year ago, the government estimated ending oil and gas subsidies could save US taxpayers US$36.5 billion (Dh134.07bn) over 10 years.

In its proposed budget for the government's 2011 fiscal year, which started on October 1 last year, the administration said eliminating the subsidies would "foster the clean energy economy of the future" and cut US reliance on "fossil fuels that contribute to climate change".

The proposed changes had been due to take effect from January 1 but were dropped from the budget before it was passed last year.

Mr Obama's speech this week, however, prompted a strongly worded response from the American Petroleum Institute (API), the Washington industry association that serves as the voice of the US oil and gas industry and its powerful lobby on Capitol Hill.

"The American people spoke loud and clear in the last election and directed the president and new Congress to focus on one main issue: job creation. It's unfortunate that the administration seems poised to stifle what remains of one of America's strongest job-creating industries," the institute said. "[Tuesday's speech] was a missed opportunity.

"The president focused on job growth through federal spending, but was silent on one of the best ways to create jobs: allow more energy development.

"Producing more oil and gas at home, which most Americans want, could create hundreds of thousands of jobs, reduce our deficit by billions [of dollars] and enhance our energy security," it said.