Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Keith Ellison on Thursday introduced legislation to end billions of dollars in oil, coal and gas subsidies. "We are here today not just to announce new legislation, but to send a message that it is time to end the absurdity of taxpayers providing massive subsidies to hugely profitable fossil fuel corporations," Sanders told a news conference outside the U.S. Capitol. "In these difficult economic times, it is imperative that we support the taxpayers of this country and not the fossil fuel industry - one of the most powerful special interests in the world," he added.
Joining Sanders at a news conference, 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 The Sanders-Ellison bill helps us get there by eliminating more than $110 billion in outdated and unnecessary subsidies to the fossil fuel industry."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.