Pressure mounting to end fossil fuel subsidies
“We subsidize fossil fuels six times more than we do renewable energy.”
-US Representative Keith Ellison
The Midwest Energy News just interviewed Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn) on recently announced legislation that, if passed, will eliminate billions of dollars in subsidies and tax breaks/loopholes that currently fill the pockets of insanely profitable fossil fuel corporations with taxpayer dollars.
One of Ellison’s statements said it all: "My question is: even if you’re the most capitalistic capitalist in American, why should the government fund and finance a profitable company? It’s irrational.”
The reason for the subsidies in the first place should offend all sides of the political spectrum. Ellison explained the origins of the subsidies have been slowly woven into the system over many years: “There’s not just one big giant oil, gas, coal subsidy bill. There’s different pieces at different times for different things. … They came in because the industry itself used the enormous profits that it has to hire lobbyists and hand out campaign donations to get Congress to do it their way.”
He explains that the subsidies come in various forms:
- Taxpayers fund the cleanup of some oil spills (That’s like the government paying your tow fee when you crash your car).
- Companies like BP are allowed to write off their cost of mitigating oil spills (That’s like you getting a tax break for your garbage collection bill).
- A tax loophole that allows oil companies to file taxes as manufacturers when the tax break for manufacturing was not designed for drilling oil (That’s like you claiming your dog as a dependent on your tax forms).
It’s great news to hear a politician making the same point we’ve been trying to make here in the solar industry for some time. His words were almost exactly the same words I’ve heard around the solar business for years: “In order for renewable energy to have any kind of shot, I think it’s got to at least be on equal footing. Now, we subsidize fossil fuels six times more than we do renewable energy, which is definitely the wrong signal at the wrong time.”
Photo unfortunately not taken in the United States - instead, stay tuned for a "fracking in your neighborhood" photo essay coming soon on the Lighthouse Solar Blog.