Extracted from the USA Today article:
In January, as part of their "100 hours agenda," House Democrats passed a measure designed to fix a $10 billion
mistake that gave huge royalty breaks to oil companies that drill on federal land. Now,
two key Democratic senators with political ties to the oil and gas industry are contemplating a gentler approach to correcting
what the Interior Department's Inspector General has called "a jaw-dropping example of bureaucratic bungling." A price cap was left out of offshore drilling leases negotiated in 1998 and 1999, and the missing language
allowed the companies to avoid royalties when oil prices spiked. If it remains
uncorrected, the mistake is slated to cost taxpayers $10 billion. The government so far has lost at least $1 billion, according
to the Government Accountability Office. No proposal would recover that money, because royalties can't be imposed retroactively.
Senators. Dianne Feinstein and Jeff Bingaman, who both represent energy-producing
states, use as an excuse for their legislation the possible of a lawsuit from the oil industry. However, the non-partisan
Congressional Research Service said the House bill would pass legal muster. These
senators support the industry plan that would offer three-year lease extensions to companies that agree to begin paying royalties. This industry plan has the support of Bush.
The Bush administration, whose position has consistently been one with the oil industry, has given away billions in
tax concessions to the oil industry. Bingaman raised from the oil & gas industry
from 2001-06, $115,484, and Feinstein over $50,000. (Thousands in donation save
billions in taxes.)
To read about how the Bush administration role in energy industry price gouging, what soft money buys, corporate tax breaks, and there is a special section on the oil industry. Ariann Huffington comments that “the Bush administration's response
has been exactly what you would expect: do nothing and let the oil companies keep the money.” At The Bush administration's response has been exactly what you would expect: do nothing and let the oil
companies keep the money.” At http://www.huffingtonpost.com/arianna-huffington/the-money-race-politicia_b_45295.html.
The Democrats need to distance themselves from the Republicans, and
not simply pass legislation which won’t be vetoed by the President. It
needs to show that it is not in the same bed with International corporations as the Republics.
Saddly, given their record, including under Cliton, this won’t happen.