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Dems’ Oil Subsidy Repeal Push Puts GOP On Defensive

Dan Froomkin, Huffington Post
WASHINGTON — Democrats are gleefully charging ahead with a proposal to end multi-billion-dollar oil and gas subsidies, seeing an opportunity to redirect the public’s ire over gas prices from the White House to Big Oil and its loyal Republican backers.

On Wednesday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) vowed to set up an early vote on the issue. His decision comes one day after President Barack Obama called for “immediate action to eliminate unwarranted tax breaks for the oil and gas industry, and to use those dollars to invest in clean energy to reduce our dependence on foreign oil.”

“I think he’s right,” Reid said of Obama’s letter to congressional leaders. “We need to take away the subsidies of these five major oil companies. We have to do that as quickly as we can. I’m going to try to get it done as soon as I can do it procedurally in the Senate here.”

“There’s no necessity for these subsidies. The companies have broken all records for profits,” Reid said in a conference call with reporters. “They do quite well without the subsidies.”

So far, at least, the battle is all about optics. The oil industry’s prodigious lobbying and campaign spending give it such a firm grip on Republicans — and some Democrats — that their subsidies were perfectly safe even when Democrats controlled both houses. Indeed, the president proposed cutting oil subsidies in his previous two budgets as well, but the Senate never brought his provisions to a vote.
(27 April 2011)

Oil firm tax breaks must end quickly: Senator Reid

Richard Cowan and Timothy Gardner, Reuters
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said he would move quickly to pass legislation ending tax breaks for major U.S. oil companies, as President Barack Obama requested this week.

“We need to take away the subsidies of these five major oil companies,” Reid told reporters, adding that the companies have “broken all records” for profits.

Reid’s remarks came on the same day BP, one of the major oil companies, reported first quarter profits of $5.5 billion despite setbacks from last year’s massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

However, any repeal passed by the Senate would likely be blocked in the Republican-controlled House of Representatives.
(27 April 2011)

President Obama Urges Congress to Eliminate Oil Company Subsidies

Jonathan Karl and Ben Forer, ABC News
President Obama sent a letter to Congressional leaders today, saying he was “heartened” by House Speaker John Boehner’s statement that he was willing to consider cutting multi-billion dollar subsidies to oil companies, and urging lawmakers to act.

The president said Congress should “take immediate action to eliminate unwarranted tax breaks for the oil and gas industry and use the dollars to invest in clean energy.”

Boehner had stunned Washington on Monday when he told ABC News that cutting the subsidies to oil companies is “certainly something we should be looking at.”

“We are in a time when the federal government’s short on revenues. We need to control spending, but we need to have revenues to get the government moving,” Boehner said. “They ought to be paying their fair share.”

Congressional Democrats pounced on the issue today.
(26 April 2011)
There’s also a video at the original article. -BA

Trump on Iraq: “if it is me, we take the oil”

Truth-O-Meter, PolitiFact, St. Petersburg Times
Donald Trump says Iraq has the second-biggest oilfields in the world

During an April 14, 2011, interview with Fox News host Sean Hannity, businessman and potential Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump said Iraq is strategically important to the United States because of its vast supply of oil.

… “Iraq has the second-largest oilfields in the world. Fifteen trillion dollars worth of oil, second to Saudi Arabia. We go over, we decapitate their armies. Their armies are wiped out. They have weak armies, it is a corrupt society anyway, I mean, it’s totally corrupt what is going on over there. We then leave in Iran which has fought for years back and forth, back and forth, because they were basically of equal strength, well, now they are not. Iran will come in. And they will take over Iraq, within two seconds after we leave, forget it, it is not even a contest. …

“So, they are going to have the second-best oilfields in the world, second-biggest oilfields in the world that we made possible with our soldiers, thousands of people dead, wounded and … less importantly, $1.5 trillion. So, I said very simply. That if it is me, we take the oil. You know, in the old days, when you win a country, you win a country. Now with our stupid people, we win a country, we lose money, we lose soldiers, we lose lives, and then we leave.”

We won’t address Trump’s opinions about Iraq and the war, but we did wonder whether he was right to say that “Iraq has the second-largest oilfields in the world (behind) Saudi Arabia.”
(14 April 2011)

Climate change to reduce US West water supply – report

Scarce water supplies in the western US will probably dwindle further as a result of climate change, causing problems for millions in the region, a government report has said.

Climate change could cut water flow in several of the American West’s largest river basins by up to 20% this century, the interior department report said.

Those rivers provide water to eight US states, from Texas to California.

The West and South West are among the fastest-growing regions in the US.

The Colorado, the Rio Grande and the San Joaquin are three of the rivers mentioned in the report, which said an 8% to 20% decrease in average annual stream flow is expected.

“Impacts to water are on the leading edge of global climate change,” said Mike Connor, commissioner of the Bureau of Reclamation, a US agency that helps provide water to more than 31 million people in 17 Western states.

The report, prepared in response to the Secure Water Act of 2009, outlines increased risks to water resources in the American West for the 21st Century.
(25 April 2011)

A City Built on Oil Discovers How Precious Its Water Can Be

Kate Galbraith, New York Times
MIDLAND — The oil business is booming, but there is something more precious in Midland right now: water.

Since the beginning of October, barely one-tenth of an inch of rain has fallen on the city, the oil and gas capital of West Texas. Two of the three reservoirs that Midland and other Permian Basin cities rely on for most of their water are getting close to empty. The third is below 30 percent of capacity.

This month, for the first time, Midland imposed water restrictions, forcing homeowners to water their lawns less, and schools to let their football fields grow scrubby.

If the rain does not start soon, “it’s going to get bad,” said Stuart Purvis, the utilities manager for Midland.

All of Texas is extremely dry, and the parched vegetation is fueling huge wildfires across the state — prompting Gov. Rick Perry to urge prayers for rain this weekend. But the situation in the Permian Basin is particularly serious.
(21 April 2011)