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The United Auto Workers, although they had supported the tax in the House, announced opposition now because it appeared likely to be used for production rather than rebated to consumers. The administration and consumer groups contend the oil industry has plenty of incentive to explore, with crude oil costing four times what it did four years ago.
Metzanbaun asked the Energy Committee yesterday afternoon to approve the resolution of disapproval that he and four other liberal Democrafts had drafted. Republicans gave their solid support after Metzenbaum agreed to the request of Sen. Dewey F. Bartlett(R-Okla.), a staunch oil industry supporter, to delete one proconsumer paragraph. The stricken language said the tax would raise the price of gasoline 7 cents a gallon, be a hardship on the poor, increase inflation and unemployment. The resolution ended up saying only that the tax would not save much energy.
Committee Chairman Henry M. Jackson (D-Wash.) voted present. Only Sen. Spark Matsunaga (D-Hawaii), who is also on the Finance Committee, voted no.
Finance Committee Chairman Russell B. Long (D-La.) wants to turn the oil tax money over to an energy development corporation to help produce new sources of energy, patterned on a $100 billion 10-year agency proposed by former Vice President Nelson A. Rockefeller.