Oil lobby head: Obama tax plan part of an 'extremist' agenda

A top oil and gas industry official on Monday slammed President Obama’s plan to assess a $10 tax on barrels of oil to pay for green transportation infrastructure improvements.

Calling it an “unprecedented proposal” that would hit consumers’ pocketbooks, the president of the American Petroleum Institute came out swinging against the idea, which will on Tuesday be part of the final federal budget Obama proposes as president.  

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“It appears that the administration’s last year is dedicated to furthering an extremist agenda at the very real expense of the middle class and low-income families, through tax hikes on energy and a barrage of unnecessary and duplicative regulations that are catering to the well-funded radical whims of ‘leave it in the ground’ activists,” Jack Gerard told reporters, tying the tax to a broader push from green groups to encourage federal policies blocking energy development on federal land.

The White House said last week that Obama will propose the tax as part of his final budget proposal as a way to raise funds for a $32.4 billion annual push to green the transportation sector.

Republicans attacked the plan as soon as it was announced, with Speaker Paul RyanPaul RyanSessions: Ryan 'needs to' endorse Trump soon Dole: Gingrich should be Trump's running mate In House GOP, Ryan endorsement of Trump seen as inevitable MORE (R-Wis.) calling it an “election year distraction” and “dead on arrival” in the GOP-controlled Congress.  

Even so, the White House has big plans for the revenue the tax would raise: funding public transit, a program for cities and states that cut carbon emissions and clean vehicle research. The White House said it would advance climate goals as well by creating “a clear incentive for private sector innovation to reduce our reliance on oil and at the same time invests in clean energy technologies that will power our future,” a fact sheet said last week.

Obama told reporters Friday that now is the right time to institute the tax because oil and gasoline prices are near historic lows.

“It’s right to do it now, when gas prices are really low,” Obama said. “And they will be low for quite some time to come, so it’s not going to be a disruptive factor in terms of the economy.”

But Gerard said consumers would inevitably end up paying for the tax hike, warning it could hurt those who rely on cheap gasoline.

“If the administration ignores that reality and continue to adhere to radical thinking that puts increased energy production against climate goals, it will leave a legacy harming consumers and squandering America’s incredible opportunity to lead the world in both energy production and [reducing] carbon emissions,” Gerard said.