August 3, 2007 / 3:25 PM / 12 years ago

White House threatens to veto House energy bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The White House on Friday threatened to veto a massive energy bill slated for debate in the U.S. House of Representatives that sets aside about $16 billion in clean-energy incentives, mostly by repealing tax credits extended to oil companies.

Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) talks to the press following a breakfast meeting with U.S. President George W. Bush, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and Congressional Republican leadership at the White House in Washington, August 1, 2007. REUTERS/Jason Reed

The legislation — a top priority for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi — is a collection of bills assembled by about a dozen of the chamber’s committees over the last few months.

House leaders had planned a vote on the bill on Friday, but acrimony over an unrelated parliamentary scuffle over a food safety bill kept the chamber hamstrung for most of the day.

Pelosi said the House was likely to consider the energy bill on Saturday, and Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said the vote may come as late as Monday, the day lawmakers are slated to depart for a month-long recess.

The bill’s 786 pages run from appliance efficiency standards to green building codes to requiring installation of new pumps that can handle ethanol fuel.

The House is likely to debate a controversial amendment to the bill that would require U.S. utilities to generate 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources like wind and solar by 2020.

In its official policy statement, the White House said the energy bill and its related tax package would “fail to deliver American consumers or businesses more energy security, but rather would lead to less domestic oil and gas production, higher energy costs, and higher taxes.”

The administration criticized provisions in the tax portion of the bill that would repeal reduced tax rates for major integrated oil companies, and drop foreign income tax deductions for companies that produce oil and natural gas overseas.

Those two measures alone would impose about $15 billion in new industry taxes from 2007 to 2017 on big U.S oil companies like Exxon Mobil Corp., ConocoPhillips and Chevron Corp., according to the Congressional Budget Office.

The tax package will be weighed separately from the Democrats’ main energy measure. A $32 billion tax package failed to pass the Senate in June after Republicans objected to anti-industry provisions.

House and Senate negotiators would later meet to hammer out differences in each chamber’s bill until they forge a compromise energy package.

Earlier this week, Democratic leaders decided to drop consideration of amendments to boost U.S. automobile fuel efficiency standards for the first time in nearly 30 years, due to deep party divisions over the fine print.

House Republicans call it a “no-energy” bill because it lacks measures to boost oil and natural gas production in new U.S. basins.

The bill is notable for what it omits — vehicle fuel-efficiency rules and a mandated boost in ethanol fuel use — provisions that the Senate included in its energy legislation passed in June.

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