Press Release

Feb 17, 2011

Republicans Side with Big Oil, Reject $53 Billion in Taxpayer Savings

Issues: Oil

WASHINGTON (February 18, 2011) – Just as they have done all week during the debate on the yearly government spending bill, Republicans in the House rejected eliminating egregious loopholes and tax breaks given to the oil companies, voting down an amendment that would have recovered up to $53 billion in taxpayer funds from oil companies. The amendment -- offered by Reps. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Maurice Hinchey (D-N.Y.), George Miller (D-Calif.) and Lois Capps (D-Calif.) -- was voted down by a 251-174 vote.


The amendment to the Republicans’ spending bill would have fixed a flaw put in place by a Republican-controlled Congress in 1995 and seek to recover funds from faulty drilling leases in the Gulf of Mexico that allow oil companies to drill without paying any royalties. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) has estimated that taxpayers could lose up to an additional $53 billion over the next 25 years as a result of royalty-free drilling when oil prices are high. The Interior Department also informed Rep. Markey that American taxpayers will lose $1.5 billion just this year from this free drilling.


“Republicans once again sided with BP, Exxon and the oil companies, not with the American taxpayer and the poorest Americans most in need of help. This legislation focuses on just the kind of special interest loophole that should be closed before we open attacks on programs for the poorest Americans,” said Rep. Markey. “The biggest oil companies are already getting 100 year-old tax breaks to sell $100 a barrel oil to make $100 billion a year in profits. They don’t need a $53 billion windfall courtesy of American taxpayers and our national deficit.”


“These hugely profitable companies are tapping oil and gas reserves that belong to the American People, selling it back to us,and then reaping a massive profit on the backs of middle-class families," said Rep. Hinchey. "But the real kicker is that these oil companies are not paying one red cent to the public for the oil and gas they have extracted from publicly owned resources. They get it for free - and we pick up the $53 billion tab. American taxpayers are getting ripped off. It's too bad the Republican majority has once again decided to protect big oil at the expense of taxpayers.”


“Republicans want you to think their spending bill is about making tough choices – but it isn’t. It isn’t tough to take away Head Start or Pell Grants from poor students,” said Rep. Miller. “It’s much tougher to fight big oil and gas companies for this $53 billion that rightfully belongs to the t