Harvard University professor Dale W. Jorgensen testified that Congress should impose environmental taxes on coal, oil and natural gas to raise government revenue and encourage the use of renewable energy.
The Obama administration has for the past three years proposed eliminating tax breaks for the oil and gas industry, but Congress has rejected the idea, even when limited to the five biggest oil companies. The administration has argued the tax breaks encourage the production of fossil fuels at a cost to the environment and “long-term energy security.”
Former Oklahoma Sen. Don Nickles, a Republican who now owns a lobbying firm in Washington, told the committee the administration's reasoning was “crazy.”
The revolution in extracting oil and natural gas from shale is “one of the best things to happen to this country in years,” Nickles said. “Congress shouldn't mess it up.”
Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, a member of the committee, said the energy boom could strengthen the nation's position in manufacturing, while removing tax incentives could hurt production and therefore cost the government tax revenue.