Bernie Sanders Pledges Legislation Ending 'Absurdity' of Federal Fossil Fuel Subsidies

Mark van Laere/CC BY-ND 2.0

We just learned, based on IEA calculations, if all fossil fuel subsidies were eliminated it would result in greenhouse gas emission cuts deep enough to get us halfway to preventing dangerous climate change. Indeed, cutting fossil fuel subsidies has been publicly mulled over for some time, with scant little progress made.

Now, at a rally in Washington DC organized by 350.org, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders has pledged to do something about that.

Sanders said:

One of the absurdities that foes on right here in Washington DC is that Congress keeps voting not for the interest of our children, not in the interest of our future, but for the profits of the huge oil and coal companies. ... The most profitable corporations in the world do not need subsidies from the American people.

Sanders pledged to introduce legislation repealing federal tax breaks to fossil fuel companies, saying that doing so would reduce the federal deficit by over $40 billion over the next ten years. (International Business Times)

Ending fossil fuel subsidies also made it into President Obama's State of the Union speech yesterday. Obama said:

We have subsidized oil companies for a century. That's long enough. It's time to end the taxpayer giveaways to an industry that's rarely been more profitable, and double-down on a clean energy industry that's never been more promising.

Given the chronic Congressional constipation of late, any legislation by Sanders or the President likely has an tough fight, despite the obvious climate, energy security, public health, and long-term jobs benefits of rapidly transitioning away from fossil fuels, facilitated by taking away support for polluting non-renewable energy sources and promoting non-polluting renewable ones.

But nevertheless ending fossil fuel subsidies in a rapid yet planned and measured manner, structured in such a way that the poor don't continue to get the sharp end of the stick, is absolutely what must happen.

Tags: Coal | Economics | Natural Gas | Oil

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