Monday, June 7, 2010

Mayor Zimmer Remarks on "Close Big Oil Tax Loophole Act" with Senator Menendez

Mayor Dawn Zimmer joined and introduced Senator Robert Menendez in front of the BP gas station in Hoboken on Monday morning to support his efforts to close a series of tax loopholes for oil companies - changes which would save New Jersey taxpayers at least $750 million over 10 years. They were joined by Freeholder Anthony Romano, NJ Citizen Action Organizer Adam Sherman, Quality of Life Coalition Representative JD Capoano, and several members of the Quality of Life Coalition. Mayor Zimmer and Adam Sherman’s prepared remarks are provided below.

Remarks by Mayor Dawn Zimmer:

"Good morning and thank you for joining us.

It’s always a pleasure to join our home town Senator and especially today to highlight such an important issue.

When I watch the news reports of the disaster in the Gulf, my heart breaks for everyone in the region affected by this tragedy: the livelihoods lost, the environment ruined, the local economies battered.

But if there is a silver lining to this disaster, it’s that the country is seeing with its own eyes the often hidden costs of our addiction to fossil fuels. We’ve been taking steps to make Hoboken a greener, more energy efficient, and less car-dependent city, but this problem requires a comprehensive, national approach.

That’s why I’m proud that our Senator has been leading the fight on this issue — from raising the liability cap on oil companies, to highlighting the fact that offshore drilling is “not too safe to fail”, to pushing for a green 21st century energy plan, and fighting to close loopholes that give away billions of taxpayer dollars to some of the most profitable companies in the world.

He’s been an outspoken leader, advocate, and tireless fighter for the people of New Jersey.

It’s my pleasure to introduce and welcome our Senator, Bob Menendez."

Statement of Adam Sherman, Central Jersey Organizer, NJ Citizen Action:

"Good morning, my name is Adam Sherman. I am the Central Jersey Organizer for NJ Citizen Action, the State’s largest, independent citizen watchdog coalition representing over 60,000 family members and 100 affiliated organizations. We work to protect and expand the rights of individuals and families and to ensure that government responds to the needs of people, rather than those with money and power.

And that is just what the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act does. We are proud to stand with Senator Menendez today who, by authoring and sponsoring this critical legislation is responding to the needs of millions of working families in this state and across the country rather than extremely profitable multi-billion dollar oil companies. Oil companies do not need, nor should we continue to give them, tax loopholes that pad their already high profit margins at the expense of American taxpayers.

Despite experiencing a near collapse of our economy, giant oil companies have made record profits in recent years at the same time that many people in New Jersey have lost there job or have seen their wages cut or frozen. Citizen Action talks to working families and seniors every day through our door to door canvass and every day we talk to folks who are struggling to make ends meet and hope for a better life for their children. And they pay their taxes.

It is estimated that The Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act will generate more than $20 billion over ten years for taxpayers. Based on the proportion of federal taxes paid by New Jersey residents, passage of this legislation would bring between $750 million to $1 billion for New Jersey tax payers. As we all know, New Jersey is facing a critical budget shortfall, unemployment is stuck at dangerously high levels and we are looking at cutting support for our state’s schools and critical safety net programs. More money coming to New Jersey by eliminating tax breaks for big oil companies is just the kind of help we need from Washington. And if giant oil companies pay their fair share, we should be able to lower taxes for everyone else.

Once again, and on behalf of all of our members, we want to thank Senator Menendez for proposing this bill. Citizen Action looks forward to working with Senator Menendez and will be using the full resources of our coalition to work for passage of this legislation."

My Editorial on Fossil Fuels:

I personally feel that in the US the price of gas is way too cheap. It should be taxed much more more to encourage development of renewable resources and the sooner this is done the better. Since fossil fuels are finite, the current standard of living we all enjoy is not sustainable in the very near future relying on fossil fuels the way we currently do.  I do think that President Obama has eaten some serious crow by giving the go ahead for more off shore drilling and then having the BP disaster happen so soon in the Gulf afterwards. Instead of "Drill Baby Drill it is now "Spill Baby Spill". That would be funny except for the catastrophic damage the BP spill is doing to the Gulf, fishing, the environment, other industries in the area, and in particular that state with a Superbowl winner, an exorcist performing Fundamentalist governor Bobby Jindal that seems to be shat upon by a higher power, Louisiana.

I think Obama was trying to be a realist when he approved the offshore drilling but something must be done expeditiously to accelerate the market and give it more incentive to find solutions sooner rather than later. The war in Iraq and other strategic oil war areas has not been factored into the price of gas not to mention the environmental impact. Menendez's legislation is a start but in my opinion more is needed to turn the US into the number one producer of alternative energy. I am cognizant of the effects a higher gas tax could have on the economy in supposed recovery but maybe the best way out of the recession is to innovate our way out and make energy renewal like a mission to the moon or the Manhattan project without the bombs but perhaps viable fusion or a combination of many sources.

Feel free to share your thoughts below and as always it is OK to disagree with the said editor on this issue. Just because I am advocating an aggressive stance on this issue doesn't mean I am a "giant Sasquatch commie" as one obnoxious poster called me last week in live chat (I still get a chuckle out of that one). I still realize the value of individual talent and market forces to solve many scientific problems but Government can set the tone through programs (such as NASA which has enabled many commercial spin offs) and tax policy which can change corporate and consumer behaviors. ◦