President Barack Obama is calling anew on Congress to end tax subsidies for the oil and gas industry, saying America needs to develop alternative sources of energy in the face of rising gasoline prices.
Obama said yesterday in his weekly radio and internet address that he expected Congress to consider in the next few weeks halting $4 billion (Dh14.68 billion) in tax subsidies, something he hasn't been able to get through Congress throughout his presidency. He said the vote would put lawmakers on record on whether they "stand up for oil companies" or "stand up for the American people".
"They can either place their bets on a fossil fuel from the last century or they can place their bets on America's future," Obama said.
Industry officials and many Republicans in Congress have argued that cutting the tax breaks would lead to higher gas prices, raising costs on oil companies and affecting their investments in exploration and production. The measure is considered a long shot in Congress, given that Obama couldn't end the subsidies when Democrats controlled Congress earlier in his term.
Republican presidential candidates have accused Obama of delaying drilling for oil in the Gulf of Mexico and in a national wildlife refuge in Alaska and faulted him for not advancing the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to Texas Gulf Coast refineries. They have also criticised policies pursued by the Environmental Protection Agency as inhibiting energy development.
Obama said there is no quick fix to high gas prices, but he pushed back against critics who say he is opposed to more drilling. He said the US is producing more oil than at any time in the past eight years and has quadrupled the number of operating oil rigs.
Obama said. He said his administration was trying to make the nation less dependent on oil.