Lois Capps, 23rd District congresswoman, played a leading role in pushing new legislation through the House of Representatives yesterday that aims to aims to cut tax incentives to large oil companies and then invest the funds in renewable energy production.

The Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008 was approved by the House with a vote of 236 to 182 leaving the fate of the bill in the hands of the U.S. Senate. The act, if put into law, would repeal “excessive giveaways” to big oil and gas companies that were included in the 2005 Energy Bill passed by the then Republican-controlled Congress, according to the press release. The House sent to similar bills to the Senate last year, only to have them both rejected.

With current tax incentives encouraging the production of electricity via renewable energy sources – mainly wind solar, and biofuel technologies – set to expire at the end of the year, the savings generated by the abolition of oil and gas subsidies would provide the money to continue investing in clean energy, Capps said in a press release.

“For far too long Washington has neglected investments in sensible energy policy … while giving away the store to the very industries that encourage our country’s addiction to fossil fuels,” Capps said in a press release. “It’s high time we stopped trying to drill our way to energy independence and instead make a serious commitment to investing in the renewable energy sources.”

In addition to promoting clean energy, the bill contains incentives for plug-in hybrid cars and improvement of energy efficiency in homes, buildings and appliances, according to the press release.

According to Capps’ press secretary Emily Kryder, a limited amount of time exists to pass “green” legislation and have it prove effective.

“It’s a question of urgency for saving our planet,” Kryder said. “When you look at global warming you see we have a limited time to act and cut green house gas emissions. This [bill] helps encourage that and helps us move away from fossil fuels. It also comes at a time that our economy is very fragile and this [bill] has the potential to create hundreds of thousands of jobs in the central and south coast alone.”

Additionally, Kryder said she feels the distribution of government money to alternative energy sources should match that of the oil companies.

“We’ve been giving billions of dollars to oil and gas companies to help their development,” Kryder said. “We should be doing the same for alternative fuels such as wind, solar [and] biofuels.”

According to the press release, many of the subsidies included in the 2005 Energy Bill were even opposed by President George W. Bush, who noted that with such high oil prices there is little need to subsidize oil production. At the time, the cost of a barrel of oil was approximately $50. It is now over $100 per barrel.

Kryder also said that with oil companies posting record profits, she believes it is logical to cut the government-issued subsidies provided to the companies.

“With Exxon [Mobile Corporation] reporting something like $40 billion in profits, we think they can spare some money,” Kryder said.