Mr. Speaker, the administration's new budget proposal will strangle small business. But there's one small business the new budget is targeting with both barrels: the small, independent mom-and-pop oil and gas producers.
Getting energy out of the ground is a tough business, and it's expensive. These wildcatters hire a lot of people and risk a lot of their own money to find oil and natural gas. Banks don't lend money to these people for risky propositions; so a group of investors has to come together and risk their own money to drill in an oil or gas well, and the Federal Government gives incentives for taking this risk with a tax writeoff for part of their drilling expenses, because, frankly, America needs this energy.
The removal of the tax deduction plus new taxes on all energy producers will be in the billions. But removal of tax deductions especially hurts small businesses that take the risk. Ninety percent of the wells drilled, owned, and operated in this country are independent small operators. Let me repeat. Ninety percent of the wells drilled, owned, and operated in this country are independent small operators. They're called the ``wildcatters.''
These independent operators go out and hire other businesses to drill oil wells. They hire geologists to help find the right place to drill for oil and natural gas. Backhoe drivers clear the drilling areas. Truck drivers haul equipment and make deliveries. The food service industry feeds the independent crews. And these taxes threaten the whole infrastructure that supports the independent oil and gas industry.
According to the Texas Alliance of Energy Producers, 88 percent of natural gas in Texas comes from small independent operators. These wildcatters represent the independent spirit of this Nation that has made us the greatest country in the world, the small businesses that are the backbone of this country.
If we stop the tax incentives, this in essence puts a new tax on these independents. It will kill off these small businesses, decrease discovery of new oil and natural gas in our Nation, and it will choke off the infrastructure that promotes and provides most of America's natural gas. Now, my question is, why would the administration intentionally put people, including many blue collar workers, out of business and out of work?
These new taxes are punishing the little guy, and when they go after the little guys, they're going to have to stop the drilling. There will also be fewer refineries.
Natural gas is the clean burning transition fuel of the future, and you have to drill a hole in the ground to get it. Natural gas will be the bridge until we have something else to transition to. We can't switch to an all-illusionary green energy resource that doesn't yet exist overnight. But we have 100 to 150 years of proven natural gas reserves in just our own country. You have to drill for it. It's in the ground. Some of it's underwater. But it's a clean-energy fuel.
How can the administration justify subsidizing a green technology that doesn't even exist but they won't let the small oil and gas independents deduct a part of their risk drilling for natural gas?
Nearly 60 percent of our oil comes from other countries all over the world, and most of those countries don't like us. If we kill off the independent oil and gas industry in America, what are we going to do? Try to import more oil?
I probably represent more refineries than any other Member of Congress. If this legislation passes, it will cost southeast Texas billions of dollars in new taxes. It will hammer the refinery industry and put thousands out of work.
Now, why would the administration target America's energy producers? Why would we want to send more money to countries in the Middle East? Why would we want to send more money to Hugo Chavez? Wouldn't that money be better spent on American energy provided by American companies who offer jobs here in America?
So what are we going to do right now if we drastically reduce America's energy production, if we cut our ability to deliver natural gas? Are we going to just sit at home and freeze in the dark?
Most places, except in big cities, there is no public transportation. How are people supposed to get to work? Where I represent in southeast Texas, people drive to work. Their vehicle sometimes is their car--it's called a pickup truck.
The energy-killing policies are proposed by the administration this year, not 10 years from now, but it's in the next budget. It will kill off American jobs. It will kill off productivity. It will make America more vulnerable to our enemies, and it will send money, American money, overseas, and it will continue to make us dependent on foreign countries for our oil. It's not a good idea to destroy America's energy industry. The government should not tax our energy industry out of business.
And that's just the way it is.