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ENERGY SECRETARY O'LEARY AND KEY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS FOCUS ON FUTURE OF THE DOMESTIC PETROLEUM INDUSTRY AND PROPOSED ENERGY TAX

 WASHINGTON, May 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Efforts to rescue America's domestic natural gas and oil industry from an economic depression and to defeat a proposed federal tax on the energy content of fuels were the major themes of today's proceedings at the mid-year conference of the Independent Petroleum Association of America.
 "The men and women of IPAA want Congress, the Clinton administration, and the American people to know more about our industry, an industry still mired in economic depression," said Gene Ames, chairman of the IPAA and president of Venus Oil Company of San Antonio.
 Ames made his remarks at a press conference held at the base of a 105-foot, 50-ton natural gas drilling rig, two blocks from both the Washington Monument and the White House. The rig was brought to Washington from Charleston, W.Va., for "Wildcatters Week," highlighting the importance of the country's natural gas and oil industry.
 "Our industry has lost more than 450,000 jobs over the last decade. Employment in the industry dropped another 7 percent during the first three months of 1993," Ames continued. He called on Congress and the Clinton administration to reject proposals such as the BTU tax which would "hinder our ability to provide jobs and energy for the American economy."
 Secretary of Energy Hazel O'Leary addressed the IPAA members before the press conference. She called on the American domestic natural gas and oil industry to work with the Clinton administration, environmental groups and landowners to forcefully demonstrate the need to preserve and promote domestic energy sources.
 A number of members of Congress attended the press conference including Texas Sen. Phil Gramm (R), who attacked the Clinton administration's proposed energy tax when he said, "I'm not claiming the BTU tax is the most destructive tax that the mind of government could come up with, but it is certainly in the final four." Gramm promised to fight Clinton's energy tax "every step of the way." "I believe we have a good fighting chance of beating that tax outright in the United States Senate," he continued.
 Gramm concluded by guaranteeing that "not one Republican member of the United States Senate is going to vote for this tax."
 Sen. J. Bennett Johnston (D-La.), chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, also rejected the BTU tax and called for an oil import fee. He described that approach as the "number one candidate for an alternative" to the BTU tax.
 Johnston urged such a tax as a solution to growing American dependence on imported oil. He said, "If we let the trends continue ... we will end up being completely dependent on the Middle East and maybe facing the specter of another war."
 Sen. Don Nickles (R-Okla.), who serves on the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, characterized the Clinton energy tax proposal as destined to "hurt our international competitiveness." And, he said, "This tax is not going to help reduce the deficit."
 Rep. Henry Bonilla (R-Texas) from San Antonio said, "We have nicknamed the BTU tax in Texas as the `Big Time Unemployment Tax.'" Bonilla cited the negative spin-offs of such a tax on farmers, but added that the effects would be felt by everyone, "regardless of what part of the country you live in."
 Oklahoma Sen. David Boren (D) called for efforts to revitalize the domestic petroleum industry saying, "The economic security of the entire county depends on rebuilding our domestic energy production here in the United States."
 Rep. W.J. "Billy" Tauzin (D-La.) concluded the event by donning a wildcatters' hard hat and proclaiming that "Energy made in America for Americans makes all the sense in the world."
 The IPAA meeting continues through Friday. Former Texas Sen. Lloyd Bentsen, now secretary of the treasury, addresses the IPAA attendees tomorrow.
 -0- 5/13/93
 /CONTACT: Judy Leon of the Independent Petroleum Association of America, 202-857-4722/


CO: Independent Petroleum Association of America ST: District of Columbia IN: OIL SU: EXE

KD-TW -- DC021 -- 8279 05/13/93 16:09 EDT
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Date:May 13, 1993
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