I've written in the past that I think offshore drilling is inevitable, so with that in mind, progressives ought to get as much as we can from oil companies for the privilege. So I'm glad to see that the Democrats have decided to try to get something in exchange for permission to drill.
The House voted to roll back nearly $18 billion in tax breaks over 10 years for the five largest oil companies and require energy companies to pay billions of dollars in royalties they avoided because of an Interior Department contracting error....So this bill keeps drilling 50 miles offshore, rolls back tax breaks for oil companies, and helps alternative energy and conservation. That's a good start, which means, even if it gets through the Senate, that it will be vetoed by King George the Lesser. But that's fine with me. In fact, the Congress could pretty much push everything off until the beginning of next year and it'll be fine.
Democrats added a provision at the last minute that makes it a federal crime for oil companies with federal leases to provide gifts to government employees, a response to a recent sex and drug scandal involving the federal office that oversees the offshore oil royalty program and energy company employees.
The Democratic bill also would:
* Provide tax credits for wind and solar energy industries, the development of cellulose ethanol and other biofuels.
* Require utilities nationwide to generate 15 percent of their electricity from solar, wind or other alternative energy source.
* Give tax breaks for new energy efficiency programs, including the use of improved building codes and for companies that promote their employees' use of bicycles for commuting.