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Senate panel endorses energy tax package, but Hatch casts opposing vote

Sen. Orrin Hatch has voted against an energy tax package that would drive up the cost of gasoline in Utah and throughout the country.

"With gas prices at record highs this summer, it makes no sense to pass a bill that would make prices go higher," said Hatch.

"I have a strong record of supporting alternative and renewable energy sources. That's the future. But we shouldn't pay for it by making it more costly to get gasoline to our cars today. We need a balanced approach," continued the Utah senator.

The United States Senate's finance committee approved a $32.1 billion tax package that supports research and development of unconventional energy sources.

According to the Utah senator, the bill will not reduce the cost of gasoline for perhaps decades - at the expense of conventional sources that Americans rely on for energy needs.

Hatch indicated that a new oil refinery has not been built in the U.S. for 30 years.

The Utah senator proposed legislation for the energy package to allow oil refiners to write-off 100 percent of the costs of new equipment in the first year - rather than depreciating the expenses over 10 years - to help companies overcome the high economic hurdles of expanding capacity.

The U.S. Senate's finance committee rejected the provision, but extended through 2013 legislation from the 2005 energy act to allow a 50 percent write-off.

"You bring the price of gasoline down by producing more of it, not by making it harder to develop," pointed out the Utah senator. "I cannot support an energy policy which actually works against the goal of increasing the amount of oil and gas available to the people who need it."

Despite Hatch's opposition, the proposal cleared the finance committee.

The tax package will be included in the overall energy bill currently being debated by the full U.S. Senate.

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