Local Oil, Gas Companies Lobby Against Budget

Sunday, March 1st 2009, 5:58 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

TULSA, OK -- Local oil and gas leaders say the president's new budget will only make things worse for their industry.

An Oklahoma oil delegation will travel to Washington, D.C., this week to plead against the proposed budget that would repeal tax breaks for oil and gas companies.

Local companies say that could force one of Oklahoma's most important industries to shed jobs.

It's already been a tough couple of months for oil companies. After peaking at more than $140 a barrel last summer, prices have plummeted amidst a global recession.

"But now it's so low," said Dewey Bartlett, president of Keener Oil and Gas Company. "It's way too low. It's had a precipitous drop. It's dropped like a rock from where it was."

Adding to the industry's problems, Bartlett says, is the president's new budget.

"I promised an economy run on clean, renewable energy that will create new American jobs, new American industries, and free us from the dangerous grip of foreign oil," Obama said. "This budget puts us on this path."

That path includes a plan to repeal certain tax breaks for the oil and gas industry. Those breaks, Bartlett says, were intended to encourage domestic development and reduce our dependency on foreign oil.

"We're in a recession," Bartlett said. "Why would we want to become more dependent on other countries, other companies that are outside of our control for our energy needs? That just doesn't make any sense."

Some experts say for the big oil companies, losing the tax breaks translates to losing pocket change.

Bartlett says it may be true for the ExxonMobils of the world, but it will damage small companies like his. That's the argument he plans to make in D.C. this week.

"I hope that we'll have a receptive audience in Washington and hope they listen a little bit," Bartlett said. "I hope they realize what they're doing."

The administration says repealing the tax breaks could raises tens of billions of dollars over the next decade.