The week ahead: Lawmakers dig in on permits, tax breaks for oil industry

The House Rules Committee will meet Tuesday evening to set the rules of engagement for the bill to expand offshore access.

On May 5 the House passed – with 33 Democrats joining Republicans – a bill that sets time limits for holding delayed Gulf of Mexico lease sales and requires leasing off Virginia’s coast.

The drilling bills reflect GOP claims that the White House has placed far too many restrictions on domestic energy producers.

Across the Capitol, Senate Democrats could bring legislation to the floor aimed at rolling back billions of dollars in tax incentives for major oil companies, although it’s not clear when in coming weeks a vote might be in the offing.

“We will spend the next couple of weeks talking about how oil companies that are raking in record profits don't need taxpayer handouts,” a Democratic leadership aide said last week.

One of the places where they’ll try and make the case is the Senate Finance Committee, where Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) wants oil industry executives to testify at a Thursday hearing titled “Oil and Gas Tax Incentives and Rising Energy Prices.”

Baucus recently outlined a rough plan to deny several tax breaks to the five largest oil companies (such as Exxon and Shell) and steer the increased revenue into efficient vehicle and alternative fuel incentives.

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chairman Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.) plans to float revised offshore drilling safety legislation this week. A bipartisan plan cleared his committee last year but then sputtered.


There are a number of hearings coming up this week.


The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee meets Tuesday to hear from a range of experts on new developments in oil-and-gas drilling technologies.

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee meets Wednesday for a hearing on the controversial natural gas extraction method called hydraulic fracturing.

A panel of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee meets Wednesday for a hearing on mountaintop removal coal mining.

As noted above, the Senate Finance Committee meets Thursday for a hearing on oil-and-gas industry tax policy.

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee meets again Thursday to hear testimony on a pair of bills to boost development and commercialization of carbon capture and sequestration technologies.

The House Natural Resources Committee will hold a hearing Friday called “Identifying Roadblocks to Wind and Solar Energy on Public Lands and Waters.”

The House Energy and Commerce Committee meets Friday for a hearing on legislation aimed at speeding up energy project permitting.

A panel of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee will meet Friday for a hearing on nuclear energy risk management.

Off Capitol Hill, the U.S. Green Building Council opens a two-day conference Tuesday with speakers including Council on Environmental Quality Chairwoman Nancy Sutley and Navy Secretary Ray Mabus.

Interior Secretary Ken Salazar will deliver a speech Wednesday at the 41st Annual Washington Conference of the Americas at the State Department. His speech is titled “Toward a Safer, More Secure Energy Future.”

Energy Department’s advisory panel on nuclear waste policy – called the Blue Ribbon Commission on America's Nuclear Future – meets Friday.