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EDITORIAL: Fee proposals come at tough time for costs

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President Joe Biden signaled early on where he stands on energy policy, undermining the domestic oil and natural gas industries in multiple ways. The country is paying the price. Everyone and just about everything is affected in some way by rising energy costs, which contribute to higher prices across the board.

Predictions are things will get worse before they get better – and if there is not a moderation in policies by Biden and Democrats, higher energy costs are with us to stay. Prices at the gas pump have already soared and winter is going to bring higher prices for natural gas.

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S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson has joined with attorneys general from 18 other states in calling on leaders in two U.S. Senate committees to oppose legislation that will exacerbate the problem. The proposed legislation would charge oil and natural gas producers $1,500 to $1,800 per ton of methane emissions above certain thresholds.

"Natural gas and oil prices are already going up and so is inflation overall, so South Carolinians cannot afford what amounts to a huge tax increase for oil and gas," Wilson said in a press release. "Natural gas and gasoline are essentials which keep us moving, working, traveling and enjoying life. Tax increases on producers are tax increases on all of us."

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.

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Instead of imposing additional fees on oil and gas producers, the attorneys general call upon leaders of 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.

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With predictions that natural gas bills could be 30% 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, let’s hope the appeal by the attorneys general does not fall on deaf ears.

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