West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey led a 19-state coalition urging Congress to reject burdensome legislation that would increase fees on energy producers and hit American consumers with even greater price hikes as heating bills surge this winter.
The coalition’s letter, sent Thursday, called on leadership for two U.S. Senate committees to oppose legislation that would charge oil and natural gas producers $1,500 to $1,800 per ton of methane emissions above certain thresholds.
The attorneys general cite data from industry experts showing that the more costly proposal could impose a cost of $14.4 billion and affect as many as 155,000 jobs.
“The proposed tax is neither necessary nor appropriate,” Attorney General Morrisey led in writing. “We support reasonable and lawful measures to reduce methane emissions. But a de facto tax administered through an onerous administrative regime is not that. We urge you to reject any methane tax and save American energy consumers from ever more painful price increases.”
The coalition notes that the competing fee proposals, one in the Senate and another in the House, come at a particularly tough time for consumers. Its letter cites analysts who predict natural gas bills could be 30 percent higher this winter, adding to soaring prices at the gasoline pump and past due utility bills that have piled up at record levels due to the pandemic.
Instead of imposing additional fees on oil and gas producers, the attorneys general call upon leaders for the Senate’s Committee on Environment and Public Works and Committee on Energy and Natural Resources to focus on affordable energy solutions.
The coalition’s letter argues the Senate and House proposals could inspire more emissions-focused taxes, such as measures that would involve federal regulators extending the tax to other sectors and potentially a broader carbon tax.
For instance, the attorneys general specifically note that the Environmental Protection Agency could wrongly extend the proposed tax to agricultural operations, landfills and coal mining, all of which produce methane as well.
The letter was addressed to Sens. Tom Carper and Shelley Moore Capito, chairman and ranking member of the Committee on Environment and Public Works, as well as Sens. Joe Manchin and John Barrasso, chairman and ranking member of the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
The West Virginia-led letter received support from attorneys general in Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas and Utah.