End Polluter Welfare Act introduced to Senate

“Providing corporate giveaways during a time of widespread suffering to fossil-fuel companies is unconscionable.”

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At the start of yesterday’s Senate Budget Committee hearing, Sen. Bernie Sanders, along with Rep. Ilhan Omar, introduced the End Polluter Welfare Act. 

This bill would close tax loopholes and eliminate other subsidies for the oil, gas and coal industries. Subsidies for polluters now in place are projected to cost taxpayers more than $135 billion in the coming decade.

A summary of the bill states:

The End Polluter Welfare Act would eliminate these absurd corporate handouts and save American taxpayers up to $150 billion over the next ten years by:

  • Abolishing dozens of tax loopholes and subsidies throughout the federal tax code that benefit oil, gas, and coal special interests.
  • Updating below-market royalty rates for oil and gas production on federal lands, recouping royalties from offshore drilling in public waters, and ensuring competitive bidding and leasing practices for coal development on federal lands.
  • Prohibiting taxpayer-funded fossil fuel research and development.
  • Ending federal support for international oil, gas, and coal projects and supporting the global community’s fight to move away from dirty fossil fuels.

While the 20 largest fossil fuel companies account for more than a third of global greenhouse gas emissions in the modern era, all while raking in absurd profits, American taxpayers today pay $15 billion per year in direct federal subsidies to the fossil fuel industry, reports Common Dreams

Sens. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.) have all co-sponsored the legislation. Many organizations and environmental activists also support this bill.

“At a time when scientists tell us we need to reduce carbon pollution to prevent catastrophic climate change, it is absurd to provide massive taxpayer subsidies that pad fossil-fuel companies’ already enormous profits. At a time when fossil-fuel companies are racking up record profits, it is absurd to provide massive taxpayer subsidies to pad their already enormous earnings,” says Sen. Sanders. 

“Providing corporate giveaways during a time of widespread suffering to fossil-fuel companies is unconscionable. Our resources should go to helping the American people get through this crisis—not providing giveaways to the very people responsible for polluting our water and lands. We should be fighting for a greener, more equitable future for all instead of making the fossil fuel industry more profitable. I’m proud to be in this fight to end the welfare system for fossil fuel companies and invest those resources back to the American people,” states Rep. Omar.

“As we work to tackle the climate crisis, our nation must invest its resources in creating jobs through clean energy and infrastructure modernization —not providing public handouts to Big Oil, gas, and coal corporations. This legislation will stop these backwards, taxpayer-funded giveaways to large corporations so we can invest these dollars in initiatives to promote prosperity for everyday Americans,” says Sen. Van Hollen. 

As Common Dreams reports, while the country is facing an unprecedented health and economic crisis, corporate handouts to the fossil fuel industry are helping to drive the unprecedented expansion of fossil fuel development in the United States. Left unchecked, the U.S. is on track to be responsible for 60% of global growth in oil and gas production over the next 10 years.

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