Overnight Energy & Environment

Energy & Environment — Dems eye increased oil profit tax after record quarter

Greg Nash

Democrats are once again eyeing oil company profits after the firms recently posted record profits. Meanwhile, scientists are linking a type of PFAS to liver cancer.  

This is Overnight Energy & Environment, your source for the latest news focused on energy, the environment and beyond. For The Hill, we’re Rachel Frazin and Zack Budryk. Someone forward you this newsletter? Subscribe here.

Wyden introduces bill on ‘excess’ oil profits

Legislation introduced by Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) would double excess-profit taxes on oil companies making over $1 billion a year.  

The bill, the Taxing Big Oil Profits Act, would impose a 21 percent tax on the excess profits of oil and gas companies making more than $1 billion annually. Excess profits are determined by current profits minus a normal 10 percent return on investment.  

  • “Our broken tax code is working for Big Oil, not American families. While Americans pay more to fill up their gas tanks, Big Oil companies are raking in record profits, rewarding their CEOs and wealthy shareholders with massive stock buybacks, and using special loopholes in the tax code to pay next to nothing in taxes,” Wyden, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said in a statement.   
  • The legislation would also impose a 25 percent excise tax on oil and gas corporation stock repurchased by the company. The bill specifically cites ExxonMobil’s recent announcement that it will buy back $30 billion worth of stock in 2023 and Chevron’s announcement that it will buy back $10 billion in stock by the end of this year.   

Additional context: The announcement comes after big oil companies reported record profits between April and June – when gasoline prices spiked following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.  

Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) cosponsored the bill, along with several other Democrats.   

Kind of like a windfall tax? Congressional Democrats introduced similar legislation earlier this year as gas prices reached record highs in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. 

However, Wyden’s office clarified that unlike those proposals, Wyden’s is tied to profit margins rather than the price of oil. Although gas prices have now been trending downward for several weeks, Democrats were quick to point to both the Russian invasion and the industry’s record profits, often citing the several thousand unused leases currently held by the oil and gas industry on public lands. 

Read more about the bill here.

Study links ‘forever chemical’ to liver cancer

Scientists in a new study have identified a link between “forever chemical” exposure and the development of the most common type of liver cancer. 

One specific type of forever chemical, called perfluorooctane sulfonic acid (PFOS), may have a particularly strong connection to the manifestation of this deadly disease, according to the study. 

  • PFOS is one of thousands of humanmade per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) and is found widely throughout the environment.
  • Notorious for their presence in jet fuel firefighting foam and industrial discharge, PFAS are a set of toxic chemicals found in a variety of household products, including nonstick pans, waterproof apparel and cosmetics. 

While prior research in animals have suggested that PFAS exposure increases the risk of liver cancer, Monday’s study — published in JHEP Reports — is the first to confirm a connection in human samples. 

“Liver cancer is one of the most serious endpoints in liver disease and this is the first study in humans to show that PFAS are associated with this disease,” lead author Jesse Goodrich, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Keck School of Medicine, said in a statement

Scientists demonstrated a “probable link” between PFAS and six conditions — diagnosed high cholesterol, ulcerative colitis, thyroid disease, testicular cancer, kidney cancer and pregnancy-induced hypertension — in 2012, as part of a settlement in West Virginia. 

But in the past decade, researchers around the world have conducted a plethora of studies identifying both potential and more definitive links between PFAS and other illnesses. 

Read more here, from The Hill’s Sharon Udasin.

GASOLINE PRICES DIP BELOW $4 NATIONALLY: GASBUDDY

By at least one count, the national average gasoline price fell below $4 on Tuesday for the first time since March.  

Gas price website GasBuddy reported that the average was $3.99 nationally. Another price aggregator, AAA, listed the average price as slightly higher on Tuesday at $4.03 cents per gallon.  

Gasoline prices have been falling for weeks after peaking in June. The drop is likely to bring some reprieve to both consumers and Democrats – as the GOP has sought to make the high prices a big campaign issue ahead of the midterms. 

Patrick De Haan, GasBuddy’s head of petroleum analysis predicted in a video accompanying the announcement that prices could fall between an additional 10 and 25 cents per gallon in the coming weeks.

FEELING CHIPPER?

President Biden signed into law on Tuesday bipartisan legislation to provide billions of dollars in incentives to the domestic semiconductor industry and fund scientific research that proponents say will help boost U.S. competitiveness and solve supply chain challenges. 

“Today is a day for builders. Today America is delivering,” Biden said at the bill signing event at the White House. “And I, honest to God, believe that 50, 75, 100 years from now, people who will look back on this week, they’ll know that we met this moment.” 

The bill — formally known as the CHIPS and Science Act — passed the Senate and House at the end of July, after more than a year of work on Capitol Hill and multiple iterations of the legislation. 

The bill includes more than $50 billion in incentives for manufacturers of semiconductors, or chips, to build domestic semiconductor plants. It also includes more than $80 billion for the National Science Foundation authorized over five years to support innovation and research. 

Read more here from The Hill’s Morgan Chalfant and Alex Gangitano.

WHAT WE’RE READING

  • ‘The Sacrifice Zone’: Myanmar bears cost of green energy (The Associated Press
  • As temperatures rise, industries fight heat safeguards for workers (The Washington Post
  • Biden wants minerals, but mine permitting lags (E&E News
  • Ford raises price of electric F-150 Lightning by up to $8,500 due to ‘significant’ battery cost increases (CNBC
  • Russian Oil Flows Halted Through Pipeline to Central Europe (Bloomberg)

💻 Lighter clickNew meme just dropped.

That’s it for today, thanks for reading. Check out The Hill’s Energy & Environment page for the latest news and coverage. We’ll see you tomorrow.

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