OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Lawmakers head home to face constituents angry about gas prices

A CNN poll released Thursday says the public blames Obama and Republicans in Congress equally for soaring gas prices, which have reached a national average of $3.92 per gallon.

The Senate rejected earlier Thursday a Democrat-backed measure to repeal billions of dollars in tax credits for the largest oil companies.

Carney expressed disappointment in the vote. Echoing President Obama’s comments during a Rose Garden speech just an hour before the vote, Carney took aim at Republicans for opposing the legislation.

“[U]nfortunately, Senate Republicans overwhelmingly chose to side with oil and gas companies instead of the American people, who overwhelmingly support the notion that the President talked about this morning in the Rose Garden, which is that at a time of record profits, at a time when a company like Exxon-Mobil is pulling down — was it $4.7 million an hour in profits? — that the American taxpayer should not be subsidizing oil and gas companies,” he said.

“And so that was an unfortunate vote.”

Obama, a long-time supporter of legislation to nix the tax breaks, has spent weeks touting the bill during a series of energy speeches around the country.

Passage of the legislation was always a long shot, but the bill gave Democrats an issue to rally around amid GOP efforts to blame the White House for high gas prices.

Carney said repeal of the tax breaks will continue to be a common theme for Obama going forward.

“You can be sure he won't stop calling for this, because we simply cannot afford and it makes zero sense to have American taxpayers subsidize oil and gas companies that are enjoying record profits,” Carney said.


Group targets Obama with $3.6 million ad buy

The American Energy Alliance is spending $3.6 million on television advertisements that take aim at President Obama’s energy policies.

The ads will run in eight states starting Friday: Florida, Colorado, Iowa, Nevada, Ohio, Virginia, New Mexico and Michigan.

The 30-second spot focuses on a series of common conservative criticisms of the president, including that he isn’t making enough federal land available for domestic oil-and-gas production. The ad also slams the administration for approving a $535 million loan guarantee to failed solar panel maker Solyndra.

It also revives 2008 remarks by Steven Chu before he was Energy secretary that he wants gas prices to increase to the levels they're at in Europe.

“That’s nine dollars a gallon,” the ad says.

Chu has consistently disavowed the remarks.

“I no longer share that view,” Chu said during a March Senate hearing.

The Associated Press reported Thursday that the American Energy Alliance has ties to conservative causes, noting that the group’s president was a former lobbyist for Koch Industries.

Politico reported that the group has received funding from the billionaire Koch brothers.

Trade groups set side differences on alt-fuels bill

Industry sectors that don’t always see eye-to-eye — including oil industry and biofuels groups — are lining up behind new bills aimed at creating a smoother ride for the distribution of alternative motor fuels.

Sens. John HoevenJohn Henry HoevenGOP anxious with Trump on trade GOP lawmakers to Trump: Don't fire Mueller Government needs to help small businesses follow regulations MORE (R-N.D.), Roy BluntRoy Dean BluntGOP senators eager for Romney to join them Senate GOP wary of ending Russia probes, despite pressure GOP on precipice of major end-of-year tax victory MORE (R-Mo.), Amy KlobucharAmy Jean KlobucharOvernight Cybersecurity: Bipartisan bill aims to deter election interference | Russian hackers target Senate | House Intel panel subpoenas Bannon | DHS giving 'active defense' cyber tools to private sector Pawlenty opts out of Senate run in Minnesota Nielsen says 'possible' Trump used vulgar language in meeting MORE (D-Minn.) and Mike CrapoMichael (Mike) Dean CrapoTrump calls for looser rules for bank loans in Dodd-Frank overhaul Week ahead: Lawmakers eye another short-term spending bill Overnight Finance: Trump promises farmers 'better deal' on NAFTA | Clock ticks to shutdown deadline | Dems worry Trump pressuring IRS on withholdings | SEC halts trading in digital currency firm MORE (R-Idaho) unveiled the “Domestic Fuels Act” on Thursday, and Rep. John Shimkus (R-Ill.) is floating a House version.

The plan includes liability protections for fuel retailers “so that they can sell multiple types of fuel with less red tape, providing consumers with more choice and lower fuel prices,” states a summary from the senators.

The plan also includes provisions aimed at ensuring traditional and renewable fuels can be stored and dispensed with common equipment, the lawmakers said.

“The bill requires the EPA to develop streamlined criteria so that underground tanks can be used to dispense gasoline, diesel, ethanol or some combination of fuels, rather than requiring the use of separate tanks,” their summary states.

The bill drew cheers from the Renewable Fuels Association and Growth Energy, which represent ethanol producers.

Oil industry groups and companies including the American Petroleum Institute, refiner Tesoro Corp., ExxonMobil and the American Fuel and Petrochemical Manufacturers also back the bill, along with gas station trade groups.

“This legislation is the culmination of an unprecedented and multi-year collaboration among all parties in the transportation fuels universe — marketers and retailers, auto engine manufacturers, non-road engine manufacturers, renewable fuel advocates and manufacturers of transportation fuels,” said Gregory Goff, President and CEO of Tesoro Corp., in a statement.

Energy Department responds to BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Even some conservatives seem open to return to earmarks Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism MORE on grants

The Energy Department (DOE) is strongly defending a stimulus law grant program for green electricity projects that’s facing attacks from House Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerDems face hard choice for State of the Union response Even some conservatives seem open to return to earmarks Overnight Finance: Trump, lawmakers take key step to immigration deal | Trump urges Congress to bring back earmarks | Tax law poised to create windfall for states | Trump to attend Davos | Dimon walks back bitcoin criticism MORE (R-Ohio).

Boehner on Thursday alleged that DOE isn’t backing up claims of tens of thousands of jobs created through the program, which is run through the Treasury Department with DOE help.

DOE is pointing to estimates from grant recipients about jobs created building and operating projects, and related supply chain and manufacturing jobs.

Energy Department spokeswoman Jen Stutsman said this in response to Boehner’s criticism:

"The 1603 tax program has played a critical role in the dramatic expansion of America’s renewable energy industry over the past three years, helping to build infrastructure that will spur economic development and job creation in the country over the long-term. The highly successful program has supported more than 20,000 renewable energy projects, leveraging nearly $30 billion in private sector investments and creating tens of thousands of jobs in installation, construction and operation, as well as up and down the manufacturing supply chain."


Here's a quick roundup of Thursday's E2 stories:

- House GOP takes aim at stimulus grants for renewables
- Senate defeats Democrats' measure to kill off ‘Big Oil’ tax breaks, 51-47
- Poll: Americans concerned, but split blame on rising fuel prices
- Obama challenges Senate to repeal billions in oil industry tax breaks
- McConnell laughs off Dems' political strategy over 'Big Oil' bill
- Senate Republicans take aim at Obama gas ‘fracking’ regulations

Please send tips and comments to Ben Geman, ben.geman@thehill.com, and Andrew Restuccia, arestuccia@thehill.com.

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