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Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm argues for preserving federal tax breaks for oil companies

At a hearing before the Senate Finance Committee, Continental Resources CEO Harold Hamm says his Oklahoma City-based company would drill one-third fewer wells if Congress repeals a provision allowing for the deduction of intangible drilling costs.
by Chris Casteel Published: June 13, 2012

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., questioned whether there was a level playing field for all forms of energy since the tax provisions for oil and gas companies are permanent parts of the tax code while ones related to renewable energy, such as wind power, must be renewed.

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.

by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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