How Your Tax Dollars Fund Climate Change Denial

This post was written by Brandon Baker and originally appeared on EcoWatch.

Though the U.S. government continued sounding the alarm on climate change over the past year, its subsidies to fossil fuel companies grew.

Since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, federal fossil fuel subsidies have grown by 45 percent, from $12.7 billion to a current total of $18.5 billion, according to a report from Oil Change International.

Las year alone, U.S. federal and state governments provided $21.6 billion in production and exploration subsidies to the oil, gas, and coal industries. The increase is a result of oil and gas booms that are rewarded with tax breaks and other incentives. They are essentially rewarded for accelerating climate change, the report concludes.

“Channeling billions of taxpayer dollars to the oil, gas, and coal industries each year is in direct opposition to the urgent demands of climate change,” the report’s executive summary reads. “The U.S. needs to reject its current All of the Above energy strategy that amounts to nothing less than climate denial and live up to its promises to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and usher in a rapid transition to clean, renewable energy.”

The All of the Above policy opened the door for fossil fuels to remain alongside increases inrenewable energy. Oil Change’s report includes more startling facts:

  • U.S. taxpayers  spend more than $5 billion each year for federal subsidies that encourage further exploration and development of new fossil fuel resources.
  • Subsidies that promote fossil fuel production on federal property—related to rules governing royalty payments to the U.S. government for leasing federal oil, gas and coal-producing land—total nearly $4 billion each year.
  • Additional costs borne by taxpayers related to the military, climate, local environmental and health impacts of the fossil fuel industry are estimated between $360 billion and $1 trillion each year in the U.S.

Obama can’t be fully blamed for the subsidies, though. According to the report, he has proposed ending some of the fastest-growing subsidies to the oil industry in every budget he has sent to Capitol Hill. Congress typically blocks the proposals. Had members passed last year’s proposal, about $6.1 billion less in subsidies would have been issued to the industry.

The “cozy relationship” between Congress and the fossil fuel industry can be thanked for that, according to Oil Change. In 2011 and 2012, oil, gas, and coal companies spent $329 million in campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures. They received $33 billion in federal subsidies over those same two years.

That’s more than a 10,000 percent return on investment.


Photo Credit: Thinkstock

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Roberto Meritoni
Roberto Meritoni8 months ago

Thanks 🐸

Roberto Meritoni
Roberto Meritoni8 months ago

Thanks 🐸

Warren Webber
Warren Webber10 months ago

Live long and prosper!

Natasha Salgado
Natasha Salgadoabout a year ago

Guess we should stop paying taxes+become hobbits.

Lisa Zilli
Lisa Zilliabout a year ago

If the Republicans really wanted a free market/lower taxes, they would eliminate:
-Fossil Fuel subsidies
-Farming subsidies

Grace Adams
Grace Adamsabout a year ago

We have government of, by, and for, too big to fail international corporations. Our military leaders say they want renewable energy because it will do more to improve our national security than weapons of war can. Whatever we do about global warming has to be made 10% more profitable to each too big to fail firm affected by the change than business as usual would be. We can do a pilot project enhanced geothermal system hiring one of our too big to fail coal firms as general contractor to drill and frack the underground portions of the project and buying the above ground parts from one of our Military Industrial Complex firms, The utility in whose service area it is built should pay something for it but enough less than it costs to operate what it replaces to let the utility make some extra profit. And the federal government will have to buy as mineral rights to keep it underground the coal displaced by the enhanced geothermal project.

Franck R.
Franck R.about a year ago

Thanks for sharing

Brett Byers
Brett Byersabout a year ago

Fight climate change for the cost of a cup of coffee - stop 1000 tons of CO2 emissions by saving 3 acres of rainforest for just $1.50:

Brian Foster
Brian F.about a year ago

Paul B I 'm tired of republican conservatives like you telling me that marijuana, a harmless plant, should be illegal. No one has ever died from marijuana, and yet alcohol and tobacco, which kill 400,000 people every year are legal. Our 80 billion dollar for profit prison industry that enslaves more people for money than any other nation, is fully supported by republicans like you. Republicans like you, have no problem with the police arresting drug users, when treatment is cheaper. We have 5% of the world's population, and 25% of the world's prison inmates, mostly because conservatives, like you support tough drug use laws that criminalize drug use, instead of treating it. All dirty fossil fuels should be left in the ground, and it's time we move into 100% clean renewable energy, like Germany, China, Japan's, and the world are. The problem is republicans like you, Paul who claim you are not blocking clean renewable energy, when you are. Republicans blocked the production tax credit for wind power causing 2013 to be a terrible year for installations. Republicans are allowing electric utilities to block solar power around the nation, and imposing unfair taxes on solar power to try to block it. Republicans like you Paul are blocking clean renewable energy because you are bought and paid for by the billionaire Koch brothers and the dirty fossil fuel industry. You want to continue to pollute and destroy this planet for profit.

Brian Foster
Brian F.about a year ago

Paul B I don't like the government telling me I have to accept natural gas fracking, which poisons my water supply. I don't like the government telling me that dirty coal plants, or mountain top removal operations are acceptable. I would rather have the government tell me to accept clean geothermal plants, wind farms, and solar power plants than tell me to accept dirty fossil fuels. Republicans like you have no problem with the government arresting people who smoke marijuana, a harmless weed, but you allow Monsanto, DuPont, Dow, and the poisonous chemical pesticide industry to continue to poison our food, and environment. Alcohol and tobacco kill 400,000 each year, and yet the government allows them. So Paul, you don't want the EPA, to regulate clean air, close down dirty coal plants, stop all natural gas fracking, which poisons our water, and stop mountain top removal coal mining, but you have no problem with the government allowing dirty coal mining, mountaintop removal, and natural gas fracking. Paul, sometimes the government must step in, and regulate what we can do. You cannot drink and drive, because you could kill yourself or someone else. So, what is wrong with banning natural gas fracking which poisons our water, and closing all our dirty coal plants, which release mercury, and other poisons into our air and water.