Did you know that British Petroleum took a tax deduction for the money it had to spend to clean up after itself because of its oil spill in the Gulf? Yep, it's true, thanks to one of many loopholes that enable huge fossil fuel companies subsidies and deductions at taxpayer cost. The companies behind the Keystone tar sands pipeline would be able to do the same if there is a spill in one of the many states it crosses.
Proposed bill S.3080, the End Polluter Welfare Act, was referred to the to the Senate Committee on Finance on May 14. Sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders (Ind., Vt.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), the bill would end subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, saving American taxpayers $113 billion over 10 years.
Why should we pay them to pollute our environment? They are doing just fine on their own. In 2011, the Big Five oil companies made $137 billion in profits. In the first quarter of 2012, they have already earned a total of 33.5 billion – that’s $ 368 million per day! They are able to this by getting deep in the pockets of our government. In 2011, the collective oil, gas, and coal industry spent $167 million in lobbying the federal government.
The fossil fuel industry is subsidized at nearly six times the rate of renewable energy. The proposed bill would help turn this around by ending loopholes such as drilling deductions, tax deductions for spill clean up, and false claims of certain portions of being manufacturers of fuel.
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$113 billion is a lot of money. This should go to job creation, researching green energy options, and helping global climate change. I urge you to join Sen. Sanders, Rep. Ellison, Taxpayers for Common Sense, the Sierra Club, Earthjustice and others, and contact your representatives in Washington to support this important step.
The writer lives in Conway.