Editor's note: This hearing has been indefinitely postponed. Once we have a new date, we'll be sure to cover it live. Until then, mark your calendars for August 11, when we'll cover the next Republican presidential debate, this one from Iowa.
Lawmakers from two House Ways and Means subcommittees will come together Wednesday to consider where energy policy and tax policy intersect, focusing on the nation's need for both comprehensive tax reform and sustainable energy policies to create jobs and develop the economy.
During the hearing, members will discuss whether energy policies should be created through the tax code and how to potentially do so while advancing sustainable energy policy and tax reform. The members on these subcommittees hold varying opinions on energy tax provisions influencing public policy goals. Some question whether such an approach interferes too much with the market. Others say the tax code shouldn't subsidize energy at all.
Behind these points of view are hundreds of thousands of dollars in lobbying expenditures or campaign contributions from the energy/natural resources industry, and we'll help bring those to light as we live blog the hearing.
Joining Sunlight will be John Waggoner, a reporter and columnist for USA Today's Money section. His books include "Bailout: What the Rescue of Bear Stearns and the Credit Crisis Mean for Your Investments," while his shorter works can be found on Twitter at @JohnWaggoner.
That industry, which includes oil and gas companies, is especially friendly with Republicans, contributing more than two-thirds of its campaign contributions to GOP candidates. Meanwhile, as Sunlight reported in February, lobbyists have helped bring down corporate tax rates for companies investing in alternative energy.
Although witnesses have yet to be announced, the hearing will review existing energy tax provisions for their efficiency and effectiveness. For example, lawmakers will look at the NAT GAS Act (H.R. 1380), a bill authored by Rep. John Sullivan (R-OK) that would give federal tax incentives for vehicles powered by natural gas.
Among Sullivan's top donors during the 2010 election cycle was Chesapeake Energy, which gave $15,300. Various electric and power companies, including the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, chipped in with $10,000. The American Electric Power donated $8,500. Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH), chairman of the Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures, received more than $70,000 from his top five energy donors last cycle, including American Electric Power, which ranked third on his donor list.
In 2010, the second-highest donor to Rep. Charles Boustany (R-LA), chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight, was a private oil & gas company that gave nearly $15,000, followed by two other top-10 donors in the oil and electric utilities industries that gave a combined $28,000.
Other members on the subcommittees, such as ranking members Richard E. Neal (D-MA) and John Lewis (D-GA), each reveived tens of thousands in donations from the oil & gas industry last year. Neal saw more than $30,000 in donations from electric and power companies, like $5,500 from Exelon Corp and $5,000 each from Edison Electric Company, Northeast Utilities and Florida Power & Light. Lewis received $10,000 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the labor union that represents more than 750,000 electrical workers nationwide, and $6,000 from oil & gas company AGL Resources.
In announcing the hearing, Tiberi said energy security and tax reform are among the most important priorites in creating jobs and rebounding the economy.
"As the committee with jurisdiction over energy tax policy, the Ways and Means Committee should examine whether there sometimes can be tension between these priorities, and how this committee can design tax policies that achieve our energy security goals while also staying true to the principles of simplicity, fairness, and growth that drive the Committee's tax reform agenda," he said.
In the announcement, Boustany said lawmakers must evaluate whether tax incentives promote a sound energy strategy.
"This hearing will examine how IRS implements and enforces rules on energy credits, and it will explore the role of the tax code in energy policy," Boustany said.
Tune in to sunlightlive.com this Wednesday at 10 a.m. Eastern time to watch the hearing as our reporters fact-check and live blog to provide a real-time look into the behind-the-scenes influence on the issues at stake.