Democrat: Non-Energy-Producing States Shouldn’t Complain About High Gas Prices

By Susan Jones | May 12, 2011 | 5:55 AM EDT

Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) (AP File Photo)

( - A U.S. senator -- a Democrat – is taking a strong stand against a bill introduced by a fellow Democrat that would end energy subsidies for big oil companies.

In a speech on the Senate floor Wednesday, Sen. Mary Landrieu, from the oil-producing state of Louisiana, said the bill introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) targets an industry that supports 9.2 million jobs and contributes more than 7.7 percent to U.S. gross domestic product.

Ending energy subsidies for oil and gas companies, she said, will not reduce gas prices, but it will eliminate jobs.

Landrieu also took a swipe at states such as Michigan that produce no energy of their own: "There are a lot of states that don't produce, don't conserve, aren't efficient, and all they want to do is yell about high gas prices," she said.

“I’ll tell you, if we passed a law that said every state in America had to produce the energy it needed, we’d have an energy policy all right,” Landrieu said.

“Just like in the old days, if you wanted food, you produced it. Every state in America, all 50, if you consume energy, you need to produce something. You can produce it by wind, you could produce it by hydro, you could produce it by nuclear, you could stop driving all your automobiles and everybody walk. You could give everybody a bicycle -- we don’t care.”

Landrieu noted that Louisiana, on the other hand, is doing a great job in providing for itself:

"We produce enough energy for everybody in our state, what we need -- and we export it to everyone else in America that needs it. And what do we get? We get bills like this (the Menendez bill) that go after, directly, the big companies in our state, that work in our states, to somehow put them in a position to make them feel like they're not really good companies, they're not American companies, they don't pay tax, they get all these subsidies. I'm going to read into the record what taxes they pay. It's going to surprise you. And then on top of that, we get moratoriums. We get 'permitoriums.' We can't even drill for the oil we have. We can't even look for the oil we might have."

Sen. Landrieu said her constituents ask her -- since Louisiana produces so much energy for the country -- why are Louisianans paying $4 a gallon for gasoline?

Oil producing states should be helped to produce more, she said: "But we get shut down by bureaucracy, moratoriums, permitoriums, rules, regulations, EPA, refuges...”

Landrieu said U.S. oil and natural gas companies pay more than $86 million to the federal government in both income taxes and production fees every day. In addition, she said, since 2000, the oil and gas industry has invested almost $1.7 trillion in U.S. capital projects to advance all forms of energy, including alternatives, while reducing the industry’s environmental footprint.

As for energy subsidies -- Landrieu said it might surprise American taxpayers to know that of the $16.6 billion spent on U.S. energy subsidies over the course of one year, oil and gas subsidies account for less than 13 percent of the total, while renewable fuels, such as refined coal, nuclear, solar and hydro, account for more than 85 percent.

“You would think, because of this (Menendez) bill, that the big oil and gas companies are getting all the subsidies, making all the profits, paying no taxes, and the rest are suffering. Nothing could be further from the truth,” Landrieu said.