Sanders and Omar push to end $17 billion in fossil fuel subsidies with new bill

Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Ilhan Omar reintroduce legislation to eliminate federal subsidies for fossil fuel companies, aiming to save taxpayers $170 billion over the next decade.


Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Ilhan Omar have reintroduced the End Polluter Welfare Act, a legislative proposal aimed at eliminating an estimated $17 billion in annual federal subsidies to fossil fuel companies. The Vermont Independent and Minnesota Democrat argue that these subsidies not only pad the profits of an already lucrative industry but also exacerbate the climate crisis and burden American taxpayers.

Federal subsidies to fossil fuel companies have long been a subject of controversy. These subsidies, amounting to billions of dollars each year, include tax breaks, research and development funding, and favorable leasing terms for extraction on public lands. Historically, these incentives were designed to support energy independence and economic growth. However, critics argue that they now serve to prop up an industry that significantly contributes to climate change while other sectors, particularly renewable energy, struggle for comparable support.

The End Polluter Welfare Act aims to address these issues comprehensively. If passed, the bill would eliminate tax preferences and loopholes that benefit fossil fuel companies, prohibit taxpayer-funded fossil fuel research and development, and update below-market royalty rates for oil and gas production on federal lands. Additionally, the bill seeks to recoup royalties from offshore drilling in public waters, ensure competitive bidding and leasing practices for coal development on federal lands, end federal support for international fossil fuel projects, and guarantee the solvency of the Black Lung Disability Fund to ensure continued medical care for affected workers.

Sanders and Omar highlight the financial and environmental benefits of their proposal. By cutting these subsidies, the bill is projected to save U.S. taxpayers up to $170 billion over the next decade. This substantial savings could be redirected towards initiatives that promote renewable energy and reduce carbon emissions, ultimately helping to mitigate the impacts of climate change. The legislation aligns with President Joe Biden’s goal of eliminating tax preferences for the fossil fuel industry, as outlined in his Fiscal Year 2025 budget.

Sanders has been vocal about the moral and fiscal imperative to end what he calls “absurd corporate welfare” for the fossil fuel industry. “At a time when scientists tell us we need to drastically reduce carbon pollution to prevent climate catastrophe, when fossil fuel companies are making billions of dollars in profit every year, and when working people across this country are living paycheck to paycheck, we have a fiscal and moral responsibility to put a stop to this absurd corporate welfare,” Sanders stated. “No, working families should not be forced to pad the profits of an industry that is destroying our planet.”

Omar echoed these sentiments, emphasizing the urgent need to invest in a clean energy future. “American taxpayers have been forced to foot the bill for corporate handouts propping up the fossil fuel industry that is driving the climate crisis,” Omar said. “With the End Polluter Welfare Act, we’re putting a stop to these subsidies that accelerate environmental devastation. It’s time to transfer that revenue to invest in a clean energy future that protects our environment.”

The proposal has garnered significant support from environmental and climate advocacy groups. Over 300 organizations have endorsed the bill, including prominent names such as the Sierra Club, Greenpeace USA, Friends of the Earth U.S., Oxfam America, People’s Action, Public Citizen, Sunrise Movement, Oil Change International, WE ACT for Environmental Justice,, and the League of Conservation Voters. These organizations emphasize the urgent need to end taxpayer subsidies for the fossil fuel industry and transition towards sustainable energy solutions.

However, the bill faces substantial opposition from the fossil fuel industry, which spent nearly $137 million lobbying Congress in 2023 to maintain its subsidies. Industry representatives argue that these subsidies are essential for economic stability and energy security. They claim that removing subsidies would lead to higher energy costs for consumers and jeopardize jobs in the fossil fuel sector.

Political challenges also loom large. While the bill has support from progressive lawmakers and environmental advocates, passing such comprehensive legislation requires broader bipartisan backing. Given the fossil fuel industry’s significant financial influence and lobbying power, securing sufficient votes in both the House and Senate presents a formidable challenge.

Historical context adds weight to the current debate. The fossil fuel industry has a long track record of using financial power to shape policy and public perception. Decades of climate change denial and misinformation have delayed crucial actions needed to address the climate crisis. The industry’s financial power has also translated into significant political influence, complicating efforts to enact meaningful reforms.

The reintroduction of the End Polluter Welfare Act underscores the ongoing struggle to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for its role in the climate crisis. As the bill progresses through Congress, its impact on public discourse and legislative action will be closely monitored by media professionals, advocacy groups, and the public alike. The outcome will not only affect the future of fossil fuel subsidies but also set a precedent for how the U.S. addresses corporate welfare and climate change.

Omar remarked, “By supporting this bill, lawmakers are choosing to fight for our children’s right to a healthy planet and economy powered by renewable sources, not wealthy CEOs’ profits.” Sanders added, “The conduct of the fossil fuel industry toward the American people and their distortion of the truth about climate change is one of the biggest scandals of our lifetime. We must end this absurd corporate welfare and invest in a sustainable future.”


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Ruth Milka started as an intern for NationofChange in 2015. Known for her thoughtful and thorough approach, Ruth is committed to shedding light on the intersection of environmental issues and their impact on human communities. Her reporting consistently highlights the urgency of environmental challenges while emphasizing the human stories at the heart of these issues. Ruth’s work is driven by a passion for truth and a dedication to informing the public about critical global matters concerning the environment and human rights.