40-plus groups call on Congress to end tax breaks for Big Oil

Source: By Ron Kotrba, Ethanol Producer Magazine • Posted: Sunday, July 17, 2016

More than 40 national organizations have called on Congress to end more than a century of tax breaks for the oil industry. In a letter to U.S. legislators, a diverse coalition of environmental, veterans, labor, renewable fuels and social justice groups are challenging Congress to repeal nearly $4 billion a year in taxpayer subsidies to Big Oil, tax breaks given to the most profitable companies in the world “despite the industry’s continued efforts to promote climate science skepticism and avoid any accountability as a leading contributor of carbon pollution,” stated a press release issued by Americans United for Change.

U.S. Senators are also being called on to support the FAIR Energy Policy Act, legislation sponsored by Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, which would phase out special tax breaks for fossil fuels on the same schedule as the law Congress passed to phase out the wind production tax credit.

“We know today that we are putting too much carbon pollution into the atmosphere,” said Greg Dotson, vice president for energy policy at the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “And we should stop using tax payer dollars to encourage even more.”

Stephen Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change USA, said, “Members of Congress have been a very lucrative investment for the oil industry. For every $1 they put in in campaign contributions, they get back more than $188 in subsidies … I am sure most Americans wish we could get returns even a fraction that good from our 401Ks. This has gone on for far too long, it is time now for a separation of oil and state.”

“We could send 166,000 kids to college every year with the $4 billion that is instead squandered on Big Oil,” said Brad Woodhouse, president of Americans United for Change. “Over summer recess, we’re going to demand answers from Republicans in Congress who can’t find the money to address the Zika Virus or Flint water crisis, or repair our crumbling infrastructure, but think Big Oil can’t live without these subsidies. Even with persistently low oil prices, which dipped below $30 a barrel earlier this year, ExxonMobil still reported nearly $1.8 billion in profits last quarter, and BP over $500 million. It seems even in the worst of times, Big Oil can make tons of money comfortably without a taxpayer handout. And it seems the only return on taxpayers’ investment is dirty air and 14,000 oil spills every year.”

Woodhouse added, “Behind closed doors, Exxon accounted for the environmental impact of climate change in their business plans, but put on a public face that everything was normal,” he said, referring to the cover-up that ExxonMobil scientists recognized fossil fuels contributed to global warming as early as 1977, yet for decades it funded misleading campaigns against climate science.

“Worse,” Woodhouse said, “for decades Exxon has funneled millions of dollars into front groups like the ACCF to wage misinformation campaigns to discredit climate science and discourage use of cleaner renewable fuels.”