US Energy Subsidies by the Numbers (Infographic)


Image via GOOD

How much does the US subsidize the various players in the energy sector? If you're a regular Treehugger reader, you're probably aware that the federal government doles out hefty sums to the oil industry, and that it also lends a hand to the nascent renewable sector as well. And, of course, there's ethanol ... But who gets what? With another excellent infographic, the folks at GOOD break it down: See the full-sized graphic here.

The fossil fuel industry is, unsurprisingly, the biggest winner. It receives over $70 billion in annual subsidies from the government. $53 of that is in tax breaks, and the rest is on direct spending in the industry.

By way of comparison, renewable energy gets a mere $12 billion in federal support -- which means every year, 6 times the amount of taxpayer dollars go towards propping up an already immensely profitable dirty fuels industry than do its clean, sustainable counterpart that's still desperately trying to find its footing in the market.

And then, there's ethanol. We dump $16 billion dollars of federal money into ethanol every year to keep corn belt farmers happy -- and to find something to do with all that surplus corn that we also subsidize the crap out of. Corn ethanol has turned out to be a dubious investment at best -- it is resource consumptive and is barely an improvement in total emissions reduction (if it is an improvement at all) over fossil fuels.

Finally, we drop a couple billion on clean coal technology, another almost entirely political gesture. But the real story is fossil fuels versus renewables, and the criminal gulf that exists between spending on the two. The cheapest way to fix that gulf, of course, would be to pull the plug on fossil fuel subsidies ...

More on Energy Subsidies
Worldwide, Fossil Fuels Get 12 Times the Subsidies as Clean Energy
Graphic Of The Day: US Federal Energy Subsidies And Support, Fiscal Year 2007
76% of Federal Renewable Energy Support Went to Ethanol in 2007

Tags: Clean Energy | Congress | United States