Gasoline prices continue falling…Congress debates $16 billion in oil industry taxes…$22 million grant from Texas Enterprise Fund to help Web hosting firm’s expansion plans…
Retail gasoline prices fell across Texas this week for the second week in a row. The weekly AAA Texas gas price survey shows the average price of regular grade gasoline in 11 Texas cities fell about six or seven cents to $2.79. The national average fell seven cents to $2.87. Houston’s average is down about six cents to $2.72 per gallon. The survey showed the most expensive gasoline is in Amarillo, despite seeing the biggest price dip. Regular grade pries averaged $2.92 per gallon in the panhandle city, despite a 14-cent drop. The cheapest gas remains in Corpus Christi, where the average price of regular grade fell nine cents to $2.63 per gallon.
U.S. House leaders pressed Democrats from oil states to support $16 billion in oil industry taxes. House officials are also seeking a compromise over use of renewable fuels by electric utilities, hoping to clear the way for approval of energy legislation. But a vote planned for today was postponed after the House became bogged down over problems with a computerized voting system. One Democrat who’s balked at the oil industry tax increases is Houston Congressman Gene Green–and he says he knows the Democratic leadership is “looking for votes.” Supporters of the tax provisions say the bill only would remove some tax loopholes. Those include a tax break given in 2004 to promote U.S. manufacturing and another involving income from foreign oil production. But Green says he thinks “it’s too much to hit one industry with,” and he says some of the “blue dog” Democrats are threatening to withhold support. The “blue dogs” are moderate to conservative Democrats, including lawmakers from oil producing states. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has vowed to get energy legislation through before lawmakers leave for their summer recess at the end of the week. She says the energy measure will be taken up on Saturday.
A $22 million Texas Enterprise Fund grant will help with expansion plans by a company in the San Antonio area. Governor Rick Perry announced for the funding for RackSpace Managed Hosting. RackSpace provides global business Web hosting services. It also has offices in Austin and data center operations in Dallas, Virginia and London. Executive Chairman Graham Weston says the grant was the key factor in the company’s decision to keep its headquarters in San Antonio, plus build a new campus at Windsor Park Mall.
Computer maker Dell closed its call center in Roseburg, Oregon–five years after it opened. More than 200 employees learned that they’d lost their jobs. Dell spokesman David Frink says the Round Rock-based company announced plans in May to reduce employment worldwide by ten percent. Frink says the Roseburg location is the only such center in the United States to close. Frink says the closure has nothing to do with a lawsuit filed by employees of the Roseburg center in February–claiming Dell violated federal and state wage and hour laws.
The number of rigs actively exploring for oil and natural gas in the United States rose by six this week to 1,781. Houston-based Baker Hughes reports that of the rigs running nationwide, 1,470 were exploring for natural gas and 306 for oil. Five were listed as miscellaneous. A year ago, the rig count stood at 1,705. Texas gained ten Rigs. Baker Hughes has tracked rig counts since 1944. The tally peaked at 4,530 in 1981, during the height of the oil boom. The industry posted several record lows in 1999, bottoming out at 488.