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WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison is fighting to stop federal regulators from raising the prices that oil companies pay to drill on government land.
The proposed charges would add an estimated $66 million to the $1.6 billion that oil companies pay each year. To halt those additional charges, Hutchison has attached a rider to a spending bill that's now before the Senate.
The Texas Republican says she's working in the best interest of her constituents, many of whose jobs could vanish if oil companies had to pay higher - perhaps even unfair - prices.
"I represent a state that has a lot of jobs that depend on the oil industry," Hutchison said in a July 21 phone interview. "A healthy and stable oil industry is important to me."
Moreover, the senator said, she wants to stop regulators from imposing a tax without getting approval from Congress.
But critics claim that …