WASHINGTON, May 10 - Speaking at a news conference today outside the U.S. Capitol, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) announced legislation to end billions of dollars in oil, coal and gas subsidies.
"The American people are asking how can it be that at a time when so many in Congress are calling for savage cuts to Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, and when they tell us we can't renew key incentives for solar and wind and other sustainable technologies, that we can somehow afford to continue to pumping tens of billions in taxpayer dollars into hugely profitable fossil fuel corporations." Sanders said.
"Our legislation is the most comprehensive ever introduced," Sanders said. "It ends all tax breaks, special financing arrangements, and federal research and development funding. We ensure that never again can a company like BP take a tax deduction for money spent cleaning up its own mess in the Gulf of Mexico," he added, "and we close the loophole that lets tar sands oil pipeline operators avoid paying the oil spill clean-up tax."
Ellison noted that big oil companies make more than $300 million every day. "Why should Americans prop up these companies with tax dollars and have to pay ridiculous fuel prices?" he asked. "We need to get off the fossil fuel bandwagon that keeps us dependent on oil and contributes to climate change. The $113 billion in taxpayer handouts that oil, gas, and coal companies receive should be used to invest in green jobs. It's time for this corporate welfare to end."
The measure would do away with tax breaks, financial assistance, royalty relief, direct federal research and development and many loopholes that benefit the fossil fuel industry. Under current law, more than $113 billion in federal subsidies would go to oil, coal and gas industries in the coming decade.
The five largest oil companies in the United States earned about $1 trillion in profits over the past decade. Meanwhile, in recent years, some of the very largest oil companies in America like Exxon Mobil and Chevron, paid absolutely nothing in federal income taxes.
The bill is supported by 350.org, Taxpayers for Common Sense, Friends of the Earth, Sierra Club and Defenders of Wildlife, Oil Change International and Earth Justice.
"It's bad enough that the fossil fuel industry is doing severe damage to our climate--but that we're paying them tax dollars to do it adds insult to injury," said Bill McKibben, the environmentalist from Ripton, Vt., and founder of 350.org.
Ryan Alexander, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense said, "With the federal government facing a $1.3 trillion deficit and $15 trillion debt, the time to trim the fat is now. The Sanders-Ellison bill helps us get there by eliminating more than $110 billion in outdated and unnecessary subsidies to the fossil fuel industry."
"If we are to have any chance of avoiding climate catastrophe the first thing we need to do is stop paying corporations to pollute - and this landmark legislation does just that," said Brent Blackwelder, president emeritus of Friends of the Earth.
For a list of current subsidies, click here.
For a fact-sheet on the bill, click here
Become a citizen co-sponsor of the bill here.