Oklahoma is one of the nation's top energy states, so it's no surprise that its senators and representatives are opposed to President Obama's energy and environmental policies. What is surprising, however, is the intensity of their reactions to Obama's proposal to do away with $4 billion worth of energy industry tax breaks.
The proposal was contained in a letter from the president to Congress, but Sen. Jim Inhofe, the Sooner state's senior senator, noted that the Democratic Senate has voted 61-35 against the idea just a few months ago. “He now wants Congress to do exactly the opposite,” Inhofe told the Daily Oklahoman. “His letter is merely a distraction from what every American knows can help restrain rising prices: increase supply, that is, increase American energy production.”
Similarly, Rep. Tom Cole, minced no words, saying Obama “doesn't know squat about energy production.” As a result, Cole added in an interview with the Oklahoman, “we get great politics out of the White House. We just don't get great policy” because the president doesn't understand the differences in operations and priorities between an Exxon Mobil and a small independent producer.
Similarly, Rep. Dan Boren, Cole's Democratic colleague on the Oklahoma delegation, told the Tulsa World that the president should either lead in the right direction on energy issues or get out of the way so somebody else can do it: “Americans are tired of empty rhetoric on both sides and want a real plan. If the president doesn't want to stand up and be a leader, then his silence would be appreciated from people who are trying to find solutions.''
Rep. John Sullivan, a Republican, also told the Tulsa World, that “targeting the oil and gas industry with tax increases would not only raise gas prices even higher, but it would place hundreds of thousands of Oklahoma jobs in jeopardy of being eliminated or shipped overseas.''
Sullivan pointed out that the oil and gas industry employs more than 300,000 people in Oklahoma and 9.2 million nationwide, who pay almost $100 million per day in taxes to the federal government.
HT: Matt Dempsey of the U.S. Senate Environment and Public Works Committee minority press office, who may well be the hardest working communications guy in the Senate.