State, federal subsidies for fossil fuel production top $37 billion

The Wisconsin Gazette

Federal and state subsidies for fossil fuel production in the United States tops $37 billion a year, according to a new report from Oil Change International.

“Cashing in on All of the Above: U.S. Fossil Fuel Production Subsidies under Obama” outlines the subsidies going to the fossil fuel industry. In total, the report catalogs more than $37 billion in U.S. federal and state support for the fossil fuel industry in 2013.

The report focuses on exploration and production subsidies, which are tied to the “All of the Above” energy policy in the United States.

Much of the increase in the value of fossil fuel production subsidies can be attributed to the increase in oil and gas production in recent years, according to OCI. Federal fossil fuel production and exploration subsidies, for example, have grown in value by 45 percent since President Barack Obama took office in 2009.

“While scientists implore world leaders to leave fossil fuels in the ground to avoid a climate catastrophe, our analysis has found that billions upon billions of U.S. taxpayer dollars are going to digging ourselves a bigger climate hole every year,“ David Turnbull, campaigns director of Oil Change International, said in a news release. “Rather than putting down the shovel, our government is using even more taxpayer dollars to buy a backhoe.”

Shakuntala Makhijani, the report’s author and a researcher at OCl, said, “The science is clear that at least two-thirds of proven fossil fuel reserves need to stay in the ground to avoid catastrophic climate impacts — it is time for the U.S. government to show leadership and immediately end the massive subsidies that encourage their production.”

The organization credited the Obama administration with attempts to reduce subsidies and criticized Congress for stymying those efforts.

The report notes that in 2011-12, the fossil fuels industry spent $329 million in campaign finance contributions and received $33 billion in federal subsidies for that same period, marking a 10,000 percent return on investment for the industry.

“The ‘All of the Above’ energy strategy is not only climate denial — it’s climate denial that is funded with more than $20 billion in taxpayer support each year.” said Steve Kretzmann, OCI’s executive director. “Until our representatives in Washington and around the country find the courage necessary to put people’s interests ahead of rich polluters, this theft of our tax dollars is likely to continue. The next step for saving the climate should be clear: Stop funding fossils.”

The report can be found at http://bit.ly/2014FFSubsidies.