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Energy Bill Panned for Tax Breaks, Priorities

Of the many things thrown into the energy bill being considered in the Senate are billions in tax breaks for energy companies. Critics say the bill is meant to help only the energy industry, not consumers hit by high fuel prices.

As The Senate nears passage of its energy bill, perhaps as early as this week, lawmakers are on track to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in help for oil companies. The House's energy bill gives the industry up to $2 billion for oil drilling research. The Senate bill includes $100 million in reduced royalty payments for offshore drillers.

But critics -- and President Bush -- say that with oil prices near $60 a barrel, the energy industry is healthy enough not to need the help. The president said that the high cost is incentive enough to motivate companies to explore for new oil reserves.

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NPR News' Brian Naylor is a correspondent on the Washington Desk. In this role, he covers politics and federal agencies.
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