An energy tax is a tax that increases the price of energy (Fisher et al., 1996, p. 416). Arguments in favour of energy taxes have included the pursuit of macroeconomic objectives, e.g., fiscal deficit reduction in the 1990s, as well as environmental benefits, i.e., reduced pollution (Nellor, 1994, p. 1). A weakness of energy taxes is that they impose a burden (or cost) in the form of reduced economic output and employment (p. 19).
In 1993, then President Bill Clinton proposed a BTU tax. A BTU tax is a type of energy tax (Baron, 1997, p. 14). The tax would have taxed all fuel sources based on their heat content except for wind, solar, and geothermal. It was never adopted. The BTU tax passed the House, but was rejected by the Senate in light of the lobbying effort mobilized against its adoption. The rejected proposal was watered down, as the Clinton administration tried to salvage their efforts by offering to exempt manufacturers and base the tax on the cost rather than the heat content of energy. Many of the House Democrats who voted for the tax and who lost their seats in the 1994 midterm election, blamed their loss on their vote for the BTU tax. Getting "BTU'd" became Beltway slang at the time for those who lost reelection by voting for the controversial proposal.