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Senate Climate Bill May Include New Gasoline Tax

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Some Senators are considering a new tax on gasoline as part of an effort to win Republican and oil industry support for an energy and climate bill now before Congress. According to the Los Angeles Times, the tax of approximately 15 cents per gallon was conceived with input from oil companies, including Shell, BP and ConocoPhillips, and is being led by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina.

To attract support from more moderate Republicans, the bill will also include an expansion of offshore oil drilling and new incentives for nuclear power plant construction, according to the report.

Although historically, oil companies opposed gasoline taxes as harmful to consumers, in this case, the tax is expected to cost them far less than more onerous proposals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions currently in the House climate bill, passed last year.

The bill's sponsors, who include Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) and Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), foresee the tax funding a variety of emission reducing programs, including helping manufacturers reduce energy use and boosting wind and solar power installations by electric utilities.

And, in a surprising turnaround, it is Senate Democrats who are providing the biggest opposition to the tax, according to the LA Times. The usually more tax-happy Dems fear that increasing gas prices during a recession will not play very well with voters, according to the report.
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