The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida on September 14, 1999 · Page 51
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September 14, 1999

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The Palm Beach Post from West Palm Beach, Florida · Page 51

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Tuesday, September 14, 1999
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8A THE PALM BEACH POST TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 1999 Controversy over oil royalties hits clashing point in Senate la. nib t'h-.in y' V "" N . . - :,.Vr MARK FOLEYThe Associated Press The Associated Press WASHINGTON Oil-state senators were unable to garner enough votes Monday to break a logjam over whether the government should revamp the way it collects royalties from oil companies. Critics charge the companies are shortchanging taxpayers millions of dollars a year. Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., has refused since Thursday to allow a vote on an amendment to an Interior Department spending bill that would prevent the department from issuing its new royalty rules for another year. An attempt to cut off debate, ending Boxer's threatened filibuster, failed Monday 5540, five votes short of the 60 votes needed. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, of Mississippi, indicated he would allow another vote, probably later this week. Boxer declared victory. But the leading critic of the Interior Department proposal, Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, said she wasn't giving up and would not withdraw her amendment That may set the stage for another vote to cut off debate, possibly later this week. "We had the 60 votes if everybody would have been here," Hutchison said. The Interior Department wants to peg the royalties to market indicators. But it has been unable to act because Congress for two years has tacked measures onto spending bills barring the department from proceeding with the regulatory changes. The Clinton administration claims oil companies are underpaying the government by as much as $68 million a year. Delaying the royalty reforms another year "will result in losses to the federal treasury, states and Indians of $5.56 million per month," Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt wrote senators last week. Boxer accused major oil companies of engaging "in a scheme to essentially rob the Treasury of mi? lions upon millions of dollars" by undervaluing oil pumped from federal land and offshore fields. "The big oil companies ... are cheating the taxpayers." But oil industry supporters argue the Interior Department's proposal, which has been ready since mid-1998, would overstate the value of the oil and amount to a new tax on an industry that already is facing hard economic times. "While the large oil companies might be able to absorb these costs, hundreds of small independent producers probably will not," Hutchison said. The issue has threatened to sidetrack a $14 billion spending bill for the Interior Department While Hutchison said she is confident she will prevail, Boxer gave no indication she will end her filibuster threat voluntarily. Boxer said royalties are being underpaid largely by the 5 percent of the industry that includes the large, more prosperous oil companies not struggling independents. These same companies have had $8.4 billion in profits this year, says Jill Lancelot of Taxpayers for Common Sense. This notion that these are poor oil companies is nonsense." About $1.2 billion a year is collected by the Interior Department from the 12.5 percent royalty fee. The government's share has been lower than it should be for decades because oil companies have undervalued the oil as it is pumped at the wellhead, critics say. "What Interior is trying to do is make it harder for the companies to cheat," said Danielle Brian, executive director of Project on Government Oversight, a Washington-based advocacy group that has long criticized the way royalties are calculated. A lawsuit being heard in Texas seeks more than $2 billion in past royalty underpayments by the oil companies. Separately over the years, six states already have collected nearly $800 million in settlements arising from undervaluation of oil taken from state lands. A number of companies have moved to settle the Texas case, including Mobil, which agreed to pay $45 million, and Occidental, for $7.3 million. Chevron reportedly has reached a tentative settlement for $95 million and Conoco and BP Amoco for about $30 million each. The lawsuit, brought by private whistle-blowers against 16 oil companies and later joined by the Justice Department, charges companies used a variety of schemes to establish artificially low prices. Companies would sell equal amounts of oil to each other or to a subsidiary at below-market value and use those sales to calculate the royalty, the suit alleges. Oil companies say the royalty calculations need to be simplified, but they deny scheming to pay lower fees. 'Missing children remembered jTALLAHASSEE - Claudine and Don Ryce (left), Capitol. Jimmy Ryce was abducted and killed the parents of Jimmy Ryce, comfort Heather in 1995; Heather Cox still is missing. Gov. Jeb iCox, mother of Shelby Cox, during a 'missing Bush vowed that officials would look 'far and children's day' ceremony Monday at the Old wide' for any missing children. i Ijuchanan move would hurt GOP Switch to Reform Party seen as threat to Bush's chances The lew York Times anyone can do once someone makes up their mind. This is unfortunate news, because Pat Buchanan's got a lot of friends in the Republican Party and he's going to V. I Xr t : WASHINGTON They have cajt led him. They have scolded hin . They have floated jobs in a fuh re Republican administration am special roles in the party. 5ut on Monday, top Republican officials seemed all but resigned to the likelihood that Pat Bufihanan, the fiery conservative cor imentator, would bolt from the Republican Party and seek the presidential nomination of Rojs Perot's Reform Party, a Buchanan U.S. wants Hussein prosecuted e they fear could drain pre- mof cio votes from the eventual s iblican nominee. Re weapons inspections in Iraq, have called a conference in London on Wednesday to try to win support for the idea from other nations, Indyk said. things in a campaign that you can control and things that you can't control." The adviser said there had been informal discussions, inside and outside the Bush campaign, of offering inducements to Buchanan, but that they had not been offered. "What are we going to do?" the adviser asked. "Make him chief trade negotiator? We don't want to insult him by trying to offer him something." The adviser said Bush had also tried an indirect approach by dispatching emissaries, including people Buchanan worked with in the Nixon White House. But it has been to no avail. Jim Nicholson, the Republican national chairman, last met with Buchanan in March. They have set up another meeting, possibly for next week. But many Republicans said it would be too late. For weeks Buchanan has resisted meeting with Nicholson. Indeed, in an interview Monday on the NBC News program Today, Buchanan was dismissive of Nicholson. "I don't know the chairman that well," he said. "Frankly, I have been in the Republican Party and fought for it longer than he has. So I'm not sure what he can say to me to change my mind from where I'm going." Buchanan, who said he would make a final decision early next month, asserted that he could no longer distinguish the Republican and Democratic parties and felt alienated from his party on foreign policy and other matters. Hussein lose them if he leaves the party." Asked how damaging a Buchanan bid could be, McMaster recalled Perot's third-party run in 1992. "It would hurt," he said. "It certainly hurt George Bush. We lost an election because of it" Indeed, the potential damage could be even greater than in 1992. In that race, Perot drew votes from both the Democratic and the Republican candidates; because of Buchanan's strictly conservative views on social issues, he would be unlikely to siphon many votes from Democrats. At the Republican straw poll in Iowa last month, the party's front-runner, Gov. George W. Bush of Texas, asked Buchanan to stay in the party and, according to Bush's advisers, the two have also discussed the issue on the telephone. But one adviser to Bush said that the governor had given up trying to persuade Buchanan to stay. "It's very hard to pull this one off the ledge," the adviser said. "We really believe that there are (Although Buchanan has ma le no formal announcement of his )lans, he made it clear during the past two days that he was dis lusioned by the Republican Par y, calling it a "Xerox copy" of thejpemocratic Party, and that he was strongly leaning toward a thill-party bid. I lis remarks produced a mix-turl of pessimism and anger among top Republicans. This is like a spoiled little kid whl picks up his marbles and go(fc someplace else because he do(fen't get his way," said Robert Bennett, chairman of the Ohio Rerjublican Party. "Pat is frustrated because his message isn't getting out But if he leaves the parly, he becomes a dead duck as far fcs Republicans are concerned. Hell become another Harold Stafesen every four years he shows up." Jlenry McMaster, chairman of tfie South Carolina Republican Paify, said: "There's nothing I The administration asks a war crimes trial for the Iraqi president. The Associated Press WASHINGTON Renewing its campaign to remove Saddam Hussein as Iraq's president, the Clinton administration said Monday it was seeking to establish an international tribunal to prosecute him and senior aides as war criminals. Hundreds of Kurds in northern Iraq have been killed and 900,000 made homeless in a new round of repression in the north, while 160 homes of Shiites in the southern village of al-Masha were bulldozed in late June in response to protests against inadequate distribution of food and medicine, the State Department said in a report. The report included photographs taken by U.S. intelligence. "It is time for him to go," Assistant Secretary of State Martin Indyk said. "As long as he is around, nothing is going to change his brutal behavior." But Indyk acknowledged that "we do not at this point, have evidence of any kind" that Hussein is attempting to rebuild his arsenal of weapons of mass destruction that he was ordered to dismantle at the end of the Persian Gulf war in 1991. Still, Britain and the Netherlands, which want to revive U.N. There are currently two war-crimes tribunals, both set up by the United Nations, to deal with Bosnia and Rwanda. The Iraqi government has denied it was involved in the killings and has accused Iran and other countries of being behind the deaths in an effort to destabilize the country. The State Department showed photos of bulldozed homes along with a picture of what it said was a sprawling lakeside vacation resort, 85 miles west of Baghdad, with stadiums, an amusement park, special hospitals and hundreds of homes for government officials. - "Despite its claims that the people of Iraq are dying due to a lack of food and medicine, Saddam Hussein doesn't hesitate to spend hundreds of millions of dollars for the entertainment of Baath Party officials and cadres," State Department spokesman James Rubin said. Meanwhile, food imports are at prewar levels and oil revenue has risen almost to prewar levels, he said. "But Saddam refused to use this revenue to buy more food, and much of what is delivered to Iraq is not distributed," Rubin said. Hussein wants to use the plight of children as a propaganda wedge against a trade embargo organized by the United States, according to the department The assassination in February of Iraq's supreme religious leader, Grand Ayatollah Mohammed Sadiq al-Sader, and his two sons in the Shiite holy city of Najaf prompted demonstrations against the government and later retaliation by Hussein against protesting Shiites, Indyk said. Calling the opposition a revolt, he said that Iranian-backed Shiite forces were stepping up anti-government activity and that Iran was now willing to back Iraqi Shiites after years of inaction. The United States, meanwhile, is going ahead with a plan to provide Iraqi opposition forces with surplus military equipment while consulting with other governments about trying Hussein as a war criminal. "The effort to indict Saddam Hussein as a war criminal is now getting under way, and we are using our diplomacy to try to support the establishment of a war crimes commission on Iraq," Indyk said. Trump considers run for president in," he said. "So I really don't know at all, but it's something, out of respect for Jesse, 111 look at" Vie Associated Press Washington Tycoon developer Donald Trump said Mojiday he is considering running for president as a Reform Parjy candidate out of respect for Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura. Supporters of Ventura, a former professional wrestler and a ladder in the Reform Party, are saifl to be urging Trump to run as an Jalternative to the potential candidacy of Pat Buchanan. 'Everybody wants me to run m BHHHii jinn FREE REPORT reveals what the insurance 1 lliVS Articles of Incorporation, lfl ' f Corporate Mimics, By Laws, MM Corporate Book, Corporate Seal, Stock Certificate, Preliminary Name Starch, State Filing fta, Altwnry'a Pets companies don't want you to know. Don't settle your case until you read this free report. Call fell free 1 -800-847-1 638 24 hour recorded message mn.'r.yjMtiJrHii.'iMJK ICn-pa 4m mmttMj available Wfaa I J)J Aba Sua S Carp., f ', . -,, -, ior presiaent, t s noa rran t-orpL, i.imnro ranaeranipa, 1.1 A a, ubju, Tiaomtarti, Buaixa .SPu,taaK, and Off Shore Carpa. 'S, fl '9 ' Carat aba avaiable far tamxliat aVivarf " 9L " 561) 745-3202 http:www.MKrfliwyer.ta ' ' Jupiter 1 and I have a lot Jil V e,M" (561 ) 272-9226 Find the vehicle of your dreams in The Palm Beach Post Classifieds. VMl dccick. Mi m It) aendi'ou fan nm nfornalian bou on- qtulifKMioni tni euaienM. Prmciw f&OO) 485-Rf.OO onw.Cotiicbku- Elsewhere Is ' I : f '1 l"..' 2 ' i L j' of respect for Jesse and the job he has done," Trump said in a telephone interview from his New York office. "WVipn hp Your Pet Can Witt You $560! said, adding that he has read Trump's upcoming book and he believes Trump "seems to parallel me a lot." Buchanan, a three-time Republican presidential candidate who is sagging in the 2000 presidential polls, is on the brink of bolting the GOP for the Reform Party. Trump's remarks set the stage for a potential clash between him and Buchanan. "I think his views are prehistoric," Trump said of Buchanan. Bob Adams, a spokesman for the Buchanan campaign, said all Reform Party scenarios were "speculative at this point" Ventura too has said Buchanan's conservative views on social issues would not fit the Reform Party. Indeed, some anti-Buchanan Reform Party activists are planning to meet in Washington early next month to consider how to handle the former Nixon speech-writer's possible Reform Party bid, said a source involved in setting up the meetingN. Ventura denied that he is organizing a Stop Buchanan meeting, and asked whether Pat Buchanan would be jumping to the Reform Party in the next couple of days, Ventura said he didn't have any information. But, he added, "Everybody's welcome in the Reform Party." Trump said he was flattered by the attention, but he did not sound convinced that a presidential race was in his future. "Why would I want to run? That's not a bad question. When I look at people who have become president, they seem to go out not looking as good as they did going r Jx 1 L We're searching for the cutest & funniest animals in South Florida and we need your photos! Log on to GoPBI.com for details TruP1l' asks to look at something, I'mJ going to consider it," Trump sai. 5le declined to confirm outright that Ventura has urged him to un, though Trump has talked to lie governor recently. Ventura's backers are making it clear tha Trump would be more suitably than Buchanan. And an offi-ciafwho has talked to both Trump and Ventura said the governor wold prefer to see Trump run. Ventura said Monday he has haJ three conversations with Dojiald Trump, and that "he is starting to pique my interest a lot." "I think he may end up being a good candidate for us, " Ventura NICK UTThe Associated Press Trial set for Olson LOS ANGELES - Sara Jane Olson, also known as Kathleen Ann Soliah, watches proceedings Monday as a trial date was set for her to face conspiracy charges. Olson is accused of a 1970s plot by the radical Symbionese Liberation Army to bomb police officers. Olson could be sentenced to life in prison if convicted. She is accused of placing bombs, which did not explode, under police cars in 1975. The Palm Beach Post 4 Rules available at the Palm Beach Interactive Studio s www.GoPBI.com

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