The chief of the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association is hopping mad over the amount of taxes in President Barack Obama’s budget that would be applied to Gulf of Mexico producers. Obama’s 2010 budget, which would take effect Oct. 1, includes $3.6 trillion in spending. It increases the rates of high-income taxpayers, expands a wide range of government programs and boosts spending by 32 percent above the current year. It also details a tax increase of more than $30 billion on U.S. natural gas and oil production investments, says LOGA President Don Briggs, echoing a figure that practically mirrors the estimated impact released by the White House last week.
While increases are clearly on tap, Obama’s budget proposal would also repeal several tax incentives championed by the industry and close so-called loopholes that have allowed energy companies in recent years to avoid making royalty payments to the federal government. Briggs says the tax changes represent the “most onerous tax proposal in the history” of America’s oil and natural gas industry. “I am greatly disturbed by this most recent attack on our industry,” says Briggs. “For Louisiana, which prides itself in being the Energy State, a tax increase of this size would result in a greater slow down in drilling activity, which translates into fewer jobs, less investment in communities, and less state and local revenue from producing companies.”
Doom and gloom would be an understatement of Briggs’ prediction for Louisiana should the tax changes go into effect this year. He even suggests the oil crash in the mid-80s was a “cakewalk” compared to what 2010’s budget could offer. “The ’80s crash was due to a crash in oil prices,” he says. “Today, we are experiencing a crash in oil prices, natural gas prices, world recession, tight investment capital and now a proposal to rescind all economic incentives for exploration and development of oil and gas.”
Obama’s 2010 budget would:
• Repeal the expensing of intangible drilling costs
• Repeal the practice of percentage depletion
• Repeal marginal well tax credits
• Repeal enhanced oil recovery credits
• Increases geological and geophysical amortization costs
• Create an excise tax on Gulf of Mexico production
• Repeal certain manufacturing tax deductions
• Implement a $4 per acre fee on Gulf leases designated as “non-producing”
Independent Petroleum Association of America President and CEO Barry Russell says the tax changes would hurt small businesses because 90 percent of the oil and natural gas wells developed in the U.S. are “done by small, independent businesses — not so-called ‘Big Oil.’” Russell says that hurting American oil and natural gas production runs counter to the Obama administration’s interests. “America’s clean-burning, abundant natural gas will be essential to any clean energy agenda for the administration,” he says. “And America’s natural gas and oil are critical to decrease our reliance on foreign oil.”
But not everyone views the proposed Obama budget as a travesty. The Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental advocacy group, argues that it’s a step in the right direction. “President Obama’s budget is the first in history to make critical investments in our clean energy future and tackle global warming head on,” program director Wesley Warren said in a press release. “This is made possible by his unprecedented commitment to capping carbon emissions that will create new investments in clean, alternative energy and spur our economic recovery.”
Briggs says his group supports the development of alternative fuels as an important part of the United States’ independence from foreign oil sources. However, he also says the vital role his industry plays “cannot be ignored,” and that removing natural gas and oil from the equation of a varied, comprehensive energy structure for the country is not practical or feasible. “President Obama’s proposed tax increase aimed at increasing revenue from the oil and natural gas industry,” Briggs adds, “flies in the face of the goal of creating the comprehensive energy proposal that utilizes all sources of energy.
JUNE 19 Former Saint Steve Gleason, who is paralyzed by ALS, released a statement Tuesday in response to the Atlanta radio station's skit making fun of him and the disease, this Picayune post reports. What did he say? He said he'd accepted the apology of the DJs who did it, notes that at least the incident has got people talking about ALS, and asks anyone who is burning to take action about it to do so -- by helping him fight ALS.
JUNE 19 Blogger Ian McGibboney takes a look at the Gleason incident in this post. He makes a good argument about the difference between having free speech and being free from consequences for your speech (which none of us is). He also admits that many of us got upset before we listened to the skit -- but lets us know that the reality is far worse than we can imagine. It was the incredibly bad judgment, even more than the actual speech, that probably got those DJs fired, he opines.
JUNE 19 Washington Post blogger Aaron Blake writes about Sen. Guillory's switch to the GOP in this post. He writes what most political watchers in Louisiana know: Guillory was a Republican before he decided to run for the senate seat in a mostly-D St. Landry district, and has switched back now that he plans to run for Lt. Gov. in a mostly-R state. But how come Blake missed Guillory's appearance on a TLC pageant show? Now that is a video we'd like to see. (Again).
JUNE 19 Here's another Washington Post blog post about a Louisiana politician, and it's just plain scathing. Ezra Klein says Jindal's Politico post was "insulting" to the intelligence of voters, and adds that Jindal is personifying the "stupid" he's railed against, by being an "elite" who convinces GOP activists of "things that aren't true." Me-ow.
JUNE 19 Here's Gov. Jindal's post in Politico, in which he asks the GOP to get over losing to Obama (again) and stop "the bedwetting." (Uh, what?) He gives his Republican buddies what is probably a nerd's idea of a coach's motivational talk, which starts with a list of accomplishments that they can't seem to exploit and ending with an absurd description of liberals that sounds like a character treatment for a Fox "News" movie scripted by Gordon Liddy. Sure, he's preaching to the choir, but even the choir's not this gullible.
JUNE 19 Lamar Parmentel read Gov. Jindal's post on Politico, but thinks it was so dumb it probably was published in the wrong paper. This post by Lamar on the Daily Kingfish opines that possibly Jindal's post was destined for the Onion -- because the governor couldn't possibly be serious here. If you listen closely, you can hear the staff of the Kingfish giggling.
JUNE 19 Blogger Robert Mann posts from Turkey, a country he has visited several times in the past few years. Mann gives an interesting overview of the current political and societal climate of the country, which -- if you're living under a rock and don't know -- is experiencing protests and turmoil these days. Mann promises to post as much as he can during his trip, which should be fascinating reading.
JUNE 19 Blogger CB Forgotston says the legislature is keeping the vicious cycle going with its funding of new buildings for the community college/technical college system. Universities across the state need maintenance and improvement on existing buildings, and the solution is to build new buildings at other schools? By the time the bonds are paid off, those buildings will be falling down, too, CB says.
Frank’s Casing Crew, now doing business as Frank’s International, will make its final appearance on ABiz’s list of the Top 50 Privately Held Companies in Acadiana this year, and once again it will likely be at the top with more than $1 billion in annual revenues. The 75-year-old company specializing in tubular fabrication and installation services to the oil and gas industry plans to offer shares of its stock to the public for the first time.
The defeat, or rather highjacking of House Bill 420 in the final days of this year's Legislative Session, say Reps. Vincent Pierre and Terry Landry, is the result of the propaganda spread by one unidentified local media outlet and an unnamed former state Representative, but nothing to do with the original legislation's lack of checks, balances or details.
He’s a singer. A songwriter. A piano man. A family man. He’s even got his own Wikipedia entry. He’s David Egan. And he knows ancient secrets about the monolithic stones of Stonehenge that he’s not willing to share.