The Senate Finance Committee completed work yesterday on an unrecognizable version of President Carter's energy tax bill which contains none of the taxes he asked for but $32 billion in tax credits he doesn't want.
Ironically, while the committee rejected all of Carter's energy conservation and conversion taxes because it felt the greater need was for production incentives, its final product contained only $2.2 billion in tax credits to encourage production of oil, gas and other energy sources. The other [WORD ILLEGIBLE] billion to be handed out by 1985 would encourage conservation or conversion from oil or natural gas to coal.
The committee's staff estimated the bill would produce savings equal to 2236.000 barrels of oil a day by 1985. Experts said the House bill, which included all of Carter's taxes on domestic crude oil, gas-guzzling cars and industrial use of oil or natural gas and relatively few credits, would save about the same. The Senate committee said this ostensible 2 million-barrel-a-day saving in the tax part of the energy package would enable the country to meet Carter's overall goal of saving 4.5 million barrels a day by 1985. The rest would come from non tax programs.
The bills was sent to the Senate floor, where it is expected to come up in about a week, by a vote of 11 to 6. Most of the "no" votes, including that of Sen. Harry F. Byrd (Ind. Va.). were protests that the committee had failed to do with it set out to do for production.
The fact that the bill will not come up until after next week virtually assures Congress will remain in session well into November, leaders of both houses have said Congress will not adjourn without acting on the energy legislation.
Byrd was joined in opposition by four of the panel's seven Republicans and Floyd K. Haskell (D-Colo.), a liberal Democrat. Two Republicans, ranking GOP member Carl T. Curtis (Neb.) and John C. Danforth (Mo.) voted with nine Democrats to report the bill.
Sen. Russell B. Long (D-La), Finance Committee chairman who fought unsuccessfully for Carter's crude oil and gas-gazzler tax, hailed the committee bill as a potential solution on both the energy problem and unemployment.
He contended that tax credits or cuts averaging about $4 billion a year are not too high a price to pay for this, considering the total burget deficit is about $60 billion.
Long warned administration officials that the full Senate would be more hostile to Carter's energy taxes than was the Finace Comittee. The best hope to salvage the energy program, he said, is ina a HOuse-Senate conference that will recommend a final version to both houses. The administration hopes to perform a marriage of its House-passed taxes and the Senate credits in conference.
The Finance Committee did approve one tax, an extension through 1985 of the existing 4-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax. But this will go into the highway trust fund to continue work on the interstate highway system and has nothing to do with lessening the nation's dependence on foreign oil.
The $2.2 billion voted in production tax credits is a $3-per-barrel payment for extracting oil from shale, a 22 per cent depletion allowance for geothermal heat from inside the earth and a 50-cent-per-barrel credit for certain hard-to-get kinds of natural gas. All this is expected to lessen the need for foreign oil by 345,000 barrels a day by 1985.
The big supposed energy saver in the Senate bill is a tax credit that would pay half the cost of converting an industrial, nonprofit or religious plant from an oil gas boiler to coal or other abundant fuel. This and other conversion programs are estimated to save 1,584,000 barrels of oil a day by 1985 at a cost of $21.9 billion.
Among its many minor provisions, the bill contains $1.6 billion in tax credits to make long distance bus travel more attractive by helping upgrade terminal buildings and buy more buses. The energy saving is estimated at only a couple thousand barrels of oil a day.
The bill would give a business a tax credit equal to 20 per cent of the cost of vans it buys to carry employees to and from work. Carter wanted to start a van pooling program among federal workers bu the House threw it out as another fringe benefit for federal workers.
Sen. William V. Roth (R-Del.) proposed adding language that would permit HOuse-Senate conferees to add to the bill a general tax cut which the administration has hinted may be proposed next year. This was voted down, 10 to 5, after Assistant Treasury Secretary laurence Woodworth said the administration has made no decision on a tax cut and that "thiis bill has enough problems without adding that."