OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Romney energy adviser to warn against nixing oil industry tax breaks

State of Play: Harold Hamm, the billionaire oil exec who chairs Mitt Romney’s energy advisory team, will warn Congress Tuesday that going along with White House proposals to strip oil industry tax breaks would slam the breaks on the U.S. drilling boom.

Hamm, the CEO of Continental Resources, will appear before the Senate Finance Committee to argue against repealing tax breaks that benefit independent oil companies (as opposed to multinational behemoths like Exxon).

“The tax provisions that let us keep our own money to reinvest in drilling are crucial to keep this energy revival going,” Hamm plans to argue, according to testimony obtained by E2 that says repealing the incentives would sharply decrease drilling.

Hamm — who has given $985,000 to the super-PAC backing Mitt Romney for president — is appearing in his CEO role at the hearing on tax reform and energy policy, not as a Romney campaign representative.

The Romney campaign and a Continental spokeswoman did not respond to repeated questions about whether the campaign has vetted or reviewed his testimony, or whether there have been other discussions about Hamm’s appearance before the Senate panel.

Hamm’s prepared testimony doesn’t mention Romney, or either party, or the White House. But the appearance will nonetheless serve as a proxy fight of sorts at a time when many Democrats — including President Obama — are seeking to raise revenue by repealing oil industry tax breaks.

While some proposals would only target major integrated companies, the White House wants to raise roughly $40 billion over 10 years with a plan that would hit “Big Oil” and, in some cases, independent producers.

The White House plan would repeal the so-called percentage depletion allowance, which isn’t available to the big integrated companies, as well as repeal expensing of “intangible” drilling costs, which is fully available to independent companies and partially for the others.

{mosads}The White House argues that the oil industry doesn’t need the tax breaks.

“Oil and gas subsidies are costly to the American taxpayer and do little to incentivize production or reduce energy prices,” the fiscal 2013 White House budget plan states. It notes that repealing the incentives would raise an amount that represents only about 1 percent of domestic oil-and-gas revenues over a decade.

“These terminations free up resources to invest in clean energy development and production, which is critical to the Nation’s long-term economic growth and competitiveness,” the White House plan states.

But Hamm says removing the incentives — or subsidies, depending on your view — would have a big, and negative, effect on U.S. development, warning of “unintended consequences” to an industry that “holds the key to job creation, balance of trade and national security.”

“Most concerning is the fact that eliminating tax provisions for independent oil and gas producers would slow down, if not stop, America’s march to energy independence,” he plans to tell the committee.

Hamm’s appearance is just one of several big energy events this week. Check out our “week ahead” post for the best of the rest.



Energy agency to roll out forecast

The federal Energy Information Administration will unveil its latest short-term energy outlook Tuesday, and this month it will include EIA’s 2012 outlook for hurricane-related oil-and-gas production outages in the Gulf of Mexico.

Report shows record global investment in renewables

A new United Nations report shows record investment in renewable energy. Here’s the Associated Press:

Global investment in renewable energy reached a record of $257 billion last year, with solar attracting more than half the total spending, according to a U.N. report released Monday.

Investment in solar energy surged to $147 billion in 2011, a year-on-year increase of 52 percent thanks to strong demand for rooftop photovoltaic installations in Germany, Italy, China and Britain.

Click here for the whole story.

Energy secretary gets down to business

Energy Secretary Steven Chu is slated to speak Tuesday at the National Clean Energy Business Plan Competition.

Udall to make the case for wind tax credit

Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) plans to step up his push to extend the wind energy production tax credit, which is slated to expire at year’s end, with a floor speech Tuesday and a conference call with reporters.

Bank of America to boost green financing

Reuters reports:

Bank of America Corp., which has faced criticism for dealings with coal companies in recent years, on Monday set a new 10-year, $50 billion goal to provide loans and other financing for environmentally friendly energy projects.



– US exempts nations from Iran sanctions

– Obama: Oil markets can handle expanded sanctions targeting Iran

– Lugar presses SEC on oil payments disclosure rule

– EPA chief says agency rules aren’t to blame for coal industry woes


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

Follow E2 on Twitter: @E2Wire, @Ben_Geman

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