WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama wants oil companies to pay a $10 fee for every barrel of oil to help fund investments in clean transportation that fight climate change.
Republican members of Louisiana’s Congressional delegation condemned the plan.
House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, R-Jefferson, swiftly deemed Obama’s proposal as “dead on arrival.”
“The House will kill this absurd proposal, and instead focus on lowering costs and growing our economy,” Scalise said in a statement.
Republican U.S. Sen. David Vitter, of Metairie, said: “In Louisiana, a huge percentage of our jobs are related to the energy industry, which is why I am committed to fighting the president’s unfair and unnecessary tax increase.”
U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Baton Rouge Republican who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a statement the proposal was designed to please Obama’s supporters. “His advisers know and admit these proposals have no chance of becoming law,” he said.
Obama will formalize the proposal Tuesday when he releases his final budget request to Congress. The White House hopes the proposal will drive a debate about the need to get energy producers to help fund such efforts to promote clean transportation.
The White House said the $10 fee would be phased in over five years. The revenue would provide $20 billion per year for traffic reduction, expanding investment in transit systems and new modes of transportation like high-speed railways. It would also revamp how regional transportation systems are funded, providing $10 billion to encourage investment that lead to cleaner transportation options.
The White House said the tax would provide for the long-term solvency of the Highway Trust Fund to ensure the nation maintains its infrastructure. The added cost of gasoline would create a clear incentive for the private sector to reduce the nation’s reliance on oil and drive investments in clear energy technology.
“President Obama hasn’t been able to raise gas prices through his climate agenda, so he’s trying the direct route of raising taxes,” Republican U.S. Rep. John Fleming, of Minden, said in a statement.
The American Petroleum Institute projected that the fee would raise the cost of gasoline by 25 cents a gallon. “This isn’t simply a tax on oil companies, it’s a tax on American consumers who are currently benefiting from low home heating and transportation costs,” added Neal Kirby, a spokesman for the Independent Petroleum Association of America.
The administration said it recognized that oil companies would pass on some of the costs of the fee. However, it noted that Americans spend a lot of time and money as a result of an inadequate transportation system that also contributes to global warming.
Congressman Charles Boustany, R-Lafayette, called the plan an “absurd attack on American energy … Today, oil prices are at their lowest point in over a decade, and the workforce is hurting.”
The Associated Press contributed to this story.