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$1.5 billion giveaway to energy firms secretly slipped into energy bill
27 July 2005

WASHINGTON, July 27 (HalliburtonWatch.org) -- House and Senate conferees involved in writing new energy legislation secretly added another $1.5 billion in spending for a project that will benefit energy firms like Halliburton and the congressional district of House Majority Leader Tom DeLay (R-TX), a California congressman says.

Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA) said the additional spending was secretly inserted into the energy bill after the conference closed and the committee was no longer able to reject or accept it.

"Obviously, it would be a serious abuse to secretly slip such a costly and controversial provision into the energy legislation," Waxman, in a letter of protest to Speaker Dennis Hastert (R-IL), said.

The provision provides that taxpayers will hire a private consortium controlled by the oil and gas industry to hand out over $1 billion to oil and gas companies.

According to Waxman, the leading contender to manage the fund is a consortium in DeLay's district known as Research Partnership to Secure Energy for America (RPSEA). Halliburton is a member of the RPSEA and sits on its board of directors.

The $1.5 billion will finance a wide array of activities, including "innovative exploration and production techniques" and "enhanced recovery techniques," two areas which Halliburton is heavily invested. For example, Halliburton subsidiary Sperry Drilling Services maintains an "innovative services" segment "aimed at reducing drilling trouble time and optimizing drilling practices."

Halliburton and other energy companies could apply for a portion of the $1.5 billion handout and the head of the Department of Energy is authorized to cancel any requirement that these companies pay their own costs.

The net income of the top oil companies is expected to reach $230 billion in 2005. The House is expected to approve an energy bill which includes some $14.5 billion in tax breaks and incentives mostly for oil, natural gas, coal and electricity companies.

"If Congress has an extra $1.5 billion to give away," Waxman said, "the money should be used to help families struggling to pay for soaring gasoline prices -- not to further enrich oil and gas companies that are rolling in profits."