Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, took to the Senate floor Wednesday to offer a compromise between competing Democratic and Republican energy proposals. He said he would support the Democrats’ proposal for a gasoline tax holiday if they would back Republicans’ efforts to spur more energy production.

“I can support that idea [gasoline tax break]. I like the idea of helping American families [keep] some of that money they are spending at the gas pump these days. But we use that money to build roads and mass transit. The federal government is going to have to make those revenues up somewhere. So let me propose this idea: Let’s let oil companies make up the difference,” Domenici said.

“Let’s open up [the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, or ANWR] and use the revenue from the bonus lease sales to make up the revenue we’re helping consumers keep,” as well as use the revenue from increased oil and gas activity in Lease Sale 181 in the eastern Gulf of Mexico to make up the difference, he noted. “I think it makes sense. Democrats are blaming oil companies for the rising gasoline prices. Let’s make them pay and, at the same time, let’s produce enough of our own energy to ease gas prices at American pumps,” Domenici proposed.

“I say let’s marry the tax break Democrats want with the real solution — environmentally responsible energy development. That way, Democrats get their quick, brief tax break and Republicans get the opportunity to finish the rest of President Bush’s national energy policy by providing the sound energy production that we have been saying for years is absolutely necessary to ease supply and demand constraints,” he said.

“We did what was politically possible with the energy bill last year. And make no mistake, that bill was very significant. But we knew there was more to do. We knew that we had to increase our domestic energy production. That’s why I continued to work on ANWR this year. That’s why I introduced and marked up in committee my Lease Sale 181 bill.”

Democrats led by Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) have threatened to filibuster Domenici’s bill allowing increased leasing in Lease Sale 181 when it comes to the floor.

Democrats haven’t just opposed expanded offshore oil and gas production, but they have objected to new liquefied natural gas (LNG) projects in New England, Domenici said. The Massachusetts congressional delegation continues to block the Weaver’s Cove LNG terminal project in Fall River, MA, that would supply 400,000 Mcf/d of natural gas, he noted. “That’s enough natural gas to ease price and supply pressure for most of New England.”

Domenici said he supports President Bush’s call to eliminate the more than $2 billion in producer tax breaks that were included in the Energy Policy Act of 2005. “I am happy to help repeal tax breaks for development of oil in foreign countries. I support his call to eliminate funding for research into deepwater drilling. I have said consistently in recent days that I cannot support the concept of tax breaks for oil companies while some American families are searching their budgets for the extra cash they need to fill their gas tanks.”

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