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Federal Legislation…Oil & Gas Unites Against Obama Tax Plan

American Oil & Gas Reporter  
April 2009
By Bill Campbell

Stand Up for Oil

As president of the National Stripper Well Association, Dewey F. Bartlett, Jr., of Tulsa counts many more crude oil than natural gas producers among his membership. He says he talks with lawmakers about the 20 percent of total U.S. production that comes from marginal wells, and how putting that production at risk increases U.S. dependence on foreign oil.
He emphasizes the taxes paid to state and local governments by stripper oil producers, Bartlett continues, as well as the jobs they provide. He even has an environmental argument, Bartlett says. First, he says, stripper wells already are in place, so whatever surface disturbance was created by drilling them is past. Plus, he ventures, “Environmentalists are pointing toward sequestering carbon dioxide. Why would we not want to use our present access to underground reservoirs for that opportunity? Why would we want to drill a bunch of new wells when we have hundreds of thousands of stripper wells, many of which can be used for that purpose? And when it is done properly, significant amounts of additional oil will be produced.” Bartlett adds that the Interstate Oil & Gas Compact Commission’s annual marginal well report is
an excellent resource for showing lawmakers the amount of taxes stripper wells pay and the number of jobs they provide. “It is a real economic development data bank as to what the economic significance is of stripper wells in about 30 states,” he praises.

Targeting Democrats

In addition to the Blue Dogs, Bartlett mentions a less well-known group known as the New Democrats. A Capitol Hill publication says there are 68 New Democrats, of which 17 also are Blue Dogs. Bartlett describes them as “moderate to liberal in their social agenda, but more in line with conservative to moderate Republicans in their financial and economic agenda.”
More importantly, he goes on, New Democrats don’t like being dictated to and many of them campaigned on promises they would not be swayed by political rewards such as chairmanships or key committee assignments. “They really see themselves as independent in that they can make their own decisions,” Bartlett surmises. “If we can explain our industry and the terrible tax consequences of the president’s proposed budget, I think they will at least give us the benefit of the doubt.”