House Oversight adds energy subcommittee

Rep. James Lankford (R-Okla.) will chair the new Energy Policy, Healthcare and Entitlements subcommittee, which will allow Oversight members to call for testimony on cross-jurisdictional energy policies.

Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.), who chairs the overall committee, has previously questioned Energy Department grant and loan programs that have benefited clean energy projects.

“The American people have a right to expect that their tax dollars are being used responsibly and judiciously. We owe it to them to seek out waste, fraud and abuse and hold those responsible for mismanagement accountable,” Issa said in a Wednesday statement.

That new subcommittee might also play a role if Congress decides to consider tax-code changes. Many energy programs are financed through tax incentives, making policies germane to both the House Energy and Commerce and House Ways and Means committees.

Among high-profile energy tax provisions that could get a look next Congress are a set of breaks for the oil-and-gas industry, as well as a potential phase-out of the wind industry’s production tax credit.

President Obama and Senate Democrats tried to strip the oil-and-gas industry’s deductions for drilling costs, income on domestic projects and other measures last year.

Many of the bills — none of which passed — targeted only the “Big Five” oil companies, while others would have hit independent drillers. 

The oil-and-gas industry has defended its tax treatment as a cost-recovery mechanism afforded to other extractive and manufacturing sectors.

The discussion of a phase-out for a wind energy tax credit also is likely to surface next Congress.

 House and the Senate extended the 2.2-cent-per-kilowatt-hour credit for wind-power production Tuesday as part of the “fiscal-cliff” deal. The one-year extension comes with an estimated cost of $12.1 billion through 10 years.

The American Wind Energy Association, the industry’s main trade group, wants to phase-out the credit by 2018.

But some conservatives wanted to axe the credit this past year, hoping lawmakers would resist extending it. With that push failing, opponents of the credit are now looking to the next Congress to prevent a long-term phase-out plan.

— This story was updated at 4:18 p.m.