"Subsidies to fossil fuels, a mature, developed industry that has enjoyed government support for many years, totaled approximately $72 billion"
A new study (pdf) by the Environmental Law Institute (ELI) reviewed fossil fuel and energy subsidies in the U.S. for fiscal years 2002 to 2008. It concludes, sadly but unsurprisingly, that fossil fuels are still getting a lot more help from the government than renewables despite the recent increases. But what's worse is that the majority of those subsidies and tax breaks are going to "sources that emit high levels of greenhouse gases", and many of the subsidies to renewables are going to controversial things like corn ethanol.
ELI writes: "The research demonstrates that the federal government provided substantially larger subsidies to fossil fuels than to renewables. Fossil fuels benefited from approximately $72 billion over the seven-year period, while subsidies for renewable fuels totaled only $29 billion. More than half the subsidies for renewables--$16.8 billion--are attributable to corn-based ethanol, the climate effects of which are hotly disputed. Of the fossil fuel subsidies, $70.2 billion went to traditional sources--such as coal and oil--and $2.3 billion went to carbon capture and storage, which is designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from coal-fired power plants. Thus, energy subsidies highly favored energy sources that emit high levels of greenhouse gases over sources that would decrease our climate footprint."
Does it make sense to give so much to an industry that has been mature for decades and that it highly profitable, which a young industry is getting much less. Not only that, but when fossil fuels are subsidized, that makes it harder for renewable energy to compete with it. On subsidy is defeating the other...
There's also the problem that "most of the largest subsidies to fossil fuels were written into the U.S. Tax Code as permanent provisions" while "many subsidies for renewables are time-limited initiatives implemented through energy bills, with expiration dates that limit their usefulness to the renewables industry."
Via Environmental Law Institute, AutoblogGreen
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