Ahead of today’s Senate Budget Committee hearing on “The Cost of Inaction on Climate Change,” Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) introduced the End Polluter Welfare Act to close tax loopholes and eliminate federal subsidies for the oil, gas, and coal industries.
According to a press release from Sanders’ office, American taxpayers today pay $15 billion per year in direct federal subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. In 2020, the oil, gas, and coal industry spent more than $115 million lobbying Congress in defense of these giveaways for an over 13,000% return on investment, Sanders claimed.
The End Polluter Welfare Act, cosponsored by Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.), would eliminate save American taxpayers up to $150 billion over the next ten years, Sanders claimed.
“The conduct of oil and gas companies, toward American taxpayers and the distortion of the truth about climate change, is one of the biggest scandals of our lifetime,” said Sen. Sanders. “At a time when scientists tell us we need to reduce carbon pollution to prevent catastrophic climate change, and when fossil fuel companies are making billions of dollars in profit every year, we have a fiscal and moral responsibility to stop forcing working families to pad the profits of an industry that is destroying our planet.”
“Providing corporate giveaways during a time of widespread suffering to fossil-fuel companies is unconscionable,” said Rep. Omar. “Our resources should go to helping the American people get through this crisis—not providing giveaways to the very people responsible for polluting our water and lands. We should be fighting for a greener, more equitable future for all instead of making the fossil fuel industry more profitable. I’m proud to be in this fight to end the welfare system for fossil fuel companies and invest those resources back to the American people.”
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Editor: it is difficult to determine the full extent of U.S. government fossil fuel subsidies, and the impact of stopping them. For example – would these cuts include eliminating the LIHEAP subsidy of wintertime heating assistance for low-income Americans? The image below – credit the Earth Institute – shows U.S. Energy Information Administration data on direct subsidies from the federal government, which includes tax benefits, grants, loans, or other financial assistance awards made directly to recipients, and also grants, loans, and other financial assistance for research and development.