Congress Wrestles with Oil Prices, Subsidies, and Speculation

The hearing comes on the heels of last week’s close Senate vote on a bill which could have ended tax subsidies for major oil companies and extended them for renewable-energy companies. Both Washington senators, Democrats Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray, voted in favor, but the bill didn’t pass.

In the House, Rep. Doc Hastings has said more domestic drilling is key to lowering fuel prices, while fellow Republican Rep. Dave Reichert supports extending the renewable-energy tax credits that are otherwise set to expire.

Ross MacFarlane, director of business partnerships at Climate Solutions, says what’s happening at the gas pump almost guarantees the fight about oil company subsidies isn’t over yet.

“The good news is that it really is on the radar screen, the way that it hasn’t been for any time in my memory. We’ve had, I think, much better understanding of the size of these subsidies and how unconscionable they really are.”

A new poll by the group Small Business Majority says 73 percent of small-business owners it surveyed believe tax breaks for oil and gas companies should end, and 60 percent support the idea even if it meant another hike in gas prices. However, 10 percent strongly oppose ending the subsidies.

Today’s hearing before the House Democratic Steering and Policy Committee is to begin at 2 p.m. EDT at 340 Cannon House Office Building, Washington, D.C.

Results of the poll are online at