UPDATE (12:10 p.m) — The Senate rejected the president’s plan on Thursday. Needing 60 votes to end debate and move to a final vote, Democrats mustered only 51 votes in support. Landrieu and Begich, along with Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.), joined Republicans in opposing the measure. Meanwhile, Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) was the only Republican to vote in support of it.
– End Update –
President Obama said Thursday that he wants Congress to “double down” on clean energy investment by ending $4 billion worth of annual tax breaks given to the oil and gas industry.
During a speech in the White House Rose Garden — a speech the president has made several times before — Obama complained that big American oil companies don’t need the extra money, as evidenced by their healthy profits.
“It’s not like these are companies that can’t stand on their own,” Obama said. ”Last year, the three biggest U.S. oil companies took home more than $80 billion in profit. Exxon pocketed nearly $4.7 million every hour.”
The president urged Congress to use those dollars to fund emerging sources of energy.
“Investments in wind power and solar power and biofuels; in fuel-efficient cars and trucks and homes and buildings. That’s the future. That’s the only way we’ll break this cycle of high gas prices that happens year after year after year.”
It’s likely, though, that Obama’s renewed pitch will fall on deaf ears. Congress voted last year to reject the plan, and members of the president’s own party have cast doubt on whether repealing the tax breaks would actually reduce skyrocketing fuel costs.
“It won’t decrease prices at the pump for our families and small businesses,” said Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska) last May. “It will discourage companies, especially the independents, from domestic investment and job creation.”
“Maybe it’s just for his election, which I hope isn’t the case.” added Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) back in September.
According to a pool report of the speech, some of those in attendance today were individuals whose stories about how high gas prices have hurt them financially have been featured on the White House’s website. The administration, however, has all but admitted that steering tax incentives away from the oil and gas industry isn’t about making gas more affordable for those folks.
“From our perspective, it’s a fairness issue,” said one of Obama’s climate change advisers earlier this month.