WATCHING GOVERNMENT: Taxing oil for biofuels

Skeptics may have wondered what a “conservation fee” on some holders of federal deepwater Gulf of Mexico leases issued in 1998 and 1999 without price thresholds had to do with a 5-year farm bill which the US House passed on July 27 with much fanfare. The provision, which the House Rules Committee added to HR 2419 a day earlier, was not simply slipped in as a last-minute amendment but was generally expected as a way of funding the farm bill’s energy programs, a House Agricultural Committee spokeswoman told me. It incorporates elements of HR 6, which the House passed in January as part of the Democrats’ “first 100 hr” effort, she said.A full portion of th...

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