The People of America's Oil and Natural Gas Indusry

Energy Today - May 9, 2011

Rayola Dougher

Rayola Dougher
Posted May 9, 2011

C-SPAN: Oil Representative Weighs in on Federal Energy Policy Debate: Lawmakers are becoming concerned about the rising prices of gasoline as the summer approaches. This upcoming week, the House is expected to consider at least two bills dedicated to increasing the quantity of domestic oil drilling. Jack Gerard, president and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, joined Newsmakers to give his thoughts on Congress' and the Obama administration's energy policies. In the wake of last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, drilling in the Outer Continental Shelf has become the topic of debate. Following the disaster, President Obama placed a moratorium on offshore oil exploration, which faced opposition and legal challenges. The House Republican leadership is seeking to bring a bill to end the ongoing moratorium, and another to expedite approvals of oil drilling permits. Lubbock Online: Thomas: Raising taxes on oil companies OK if the goal is even higher gas prices: Some in Congress -- mostly Democrats, but a few Republicans -- are calling for an end to tax breaks enjoyed by the oil companies and in some cases, higher taxes on their profits. But the Obama administration is contributing to higher energy prices, which inflate the companies' bottom line. The Environmental Protection Agency has prevented Shell from proceeding with its Northern Alaska drilling project after Shell reportedly invested more than $4 billion in the project. How can companies make costly investments when they are uncertain policies allowed in one administration will still be allowed in the one that follows? In March, when visiting South America, President Obama promised the United States would help Brazil develop its offshore resources. But he won't allow much new drilling in the Gulf of Mexico, or Alaska. So we are going to help Brazil drill for oil, and then import it? Gas prices have nearly doubled since Obama's inauguration and yet the media don't blame him for it, as they blamed his predecessor when prices soared to current levels. What about taxes? Oil companies are already heavily taxed. According to the energy research firm Wood Mackenzie, between 1998 and 2008, the oil and gas industry paid $1 trillion in total income taxes. That's in addition to the $178 billion the companies sent the federal government in rent, royalty and bonus payments between 1982 and 2009. What oil companies pay in taxes is higher than the average American manufacturer, more than their "fair share."

The Bismarck Tribune: Targeting oil's taxes: President Barack Obama urged congressional leaders to eliminate tax breaks used by the oil industry and received some interest in the idea from key Republicans. Democrats in the House and Senate have indicated that they would target tax breaks sometimes labeled subsidies for oil companies. The issue arises while much of the political discussion focuses on deficit reduction and $4 per gallon gasoline stokes consumer anger toward oil companies, which were reporting big profits in their recent first-quarter financial reports thanks to oil prices at their highest level since 2008. The argument over the issue includes a question of the fairness. Supporters of changing the tax breaks question reductions in what companies contribute in taxes while the government is cutting benefits. Supporters of the oil industry argue that companies are being made scapegoats for anger over prices. "We have an effective tax rate of 41 percent," said Rayola Dougher, senior economic adviser with the American Petroleum Institute, a lobbying group for the oil industry. She said the typical tax rate for companies in other industries is 26.5 percent and that oil's tax contributions amount to $85 million per day, despite the tax incentives being targeted. "They're called subsidies, but they're not subsidies," Dougher said, referring to the shorthand for a collection of tax deductions available to oil companies. "I don't know who's subsidizing who," she said.

The Hill's E2 Wire: Vitter slams Obama over drilling comments: Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) slammed President Obama Friday for saying that increased drilling will not solve the country's energy woes. "It's absurd that the president keeps simultaneously claiming there's nothing he can do right now to fight these rising prices at the pump, while pushing retread arguments from the Jimmy Carter era," Vitter said in a statement Friday. Vitter, a staunch advocate of increased drilling, called on the Interior Department to issue more permits for offshore drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. "Unless they do, I'm afraid gas prices will continue to rise, our dependence on unpredictable foreign sources of energy will increase and jobs in Louisiana's energy industry will continue to disappear overseas," Vitter said.

Additional Resources:

Standard-Times: ALEX MILLS: Oil and gas industry is leading Texas out of recession with jobs

Bearing Drift: Hurt: Expanding American Energy Production

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rayola Dougher is senior economist at The American Petroleum Institute (API), where she analyzes information, manages projects and develops briefing materials on energy markets and oil industry policy issues. She is the author or co-author of economic research studies covering a diverse range of topics including crude oil and petroleum product markets, gasoline taxes, energy conservation and competition in retail markets. In addition to testifying before federal and state legislators, she has participated in numerous newspaper, radio and television interviews on a wide range of issues affecting the oil industry, including crude oil and gasoline prices, industry taxes and earnings, exploration and production, and refining and marketing topics.

Prior to joining API, Rayola worked at the Institute for Energy Analysis where her research focused on carbon dioxide related issues and international energy demand and supply forecasts. Rayola holds a Masters degree in Economic Development and East Asian studies from the American University and a degree in History and Political Science from the State University of New York at Brockport.