The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Since President Barack Obama took office in 2009, federal fossil fuel subsidies have grown by 45 percent, from $12.7 billion to a current total of $18.5 billion, according to a report from Oil Change International.
Las year alone, U.S. federal and state governments provided $21.6 billion in production and exploration subsidies to the oil, gas, and coal industries. The increase is a result of oil and gas booms that are rewarded with tax breaks and other incentives. They are essentially rewarded for accelerating climate change, the report concludes.
"Channeling billions of taxpayer dollars to the oil, gas, and coal industries each year is in direct opposition to the urgent demands of climate change," the report's executive summary reads. "The U.S. needs to reject its current All of the Above energy strategy that amounts to nothing less than climate denial and live up to its promises to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and usher in a rapid transition to clean, renewable energy."
The All of the Above policy opened the door for fossil fuels to remain alongside increases in renewable energy. Oil Change's report includes more startling facts:
- U.S. taxpayers spend more than $5 billion each year for federal subsidies that encourage further exploration and development of new fossil fuel resources.
- Subsidies that promote fossil fuel production on federal property—related to rules governing royalty payments to the U.S. government for leasing federal oil, gas and coal-producing land—total nearly $4 billion each year.
Additional costs borne by taxpayers related to the military, climate, local environmental and health impacts of the fossil fuel industry are estimated between $360 billion and $1 trillion each year in the U.S.
Obama can't be fully blamed for the subsidies, though. According to the report, he has proposed ending some of the fastest-growing subsidies to the oil industry in every budget he has sent to Capitol Hill. Congress typically blocks the proposals. Had members passed last year's proposal, about $6.1 billion less in subsidies would have been issued to the industry.
The "cozy relationship" between Congress and the fossil fuel industry can be thanked for that, according to Oil Change. In 2011 and 2012, oil, gas, and coal companies spent $329 million in campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures. They received $33 billion in federal subsidies over those same two years.
That's more than a 10,000 percent return on investment.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Dan Gray
- Research shows that 16 weeks of a vegan diet can boost the gut microbiome, helping with weight loss and overall health.
- A healthy microbiome is a diverse microbiome. A plant-based diet is the best way to achieve this.
- It isn't necessary to opt for a strictly vegan diet, but it's beneficial to limit meat intake.
New research shows that following a vegan diet for about 4 months can boost your gut microbiome. In turn, that can lead to improvements in body weight and blood sugar management.
By Jeff Turrentine
Nearly 20 years have passed since the journalist Malcolm Gladwell popularized the term tipping point, in his best-selling book of the same name. The phrase denotes the moment that a certain idea, behavior, or practice catches on exponentially and gains widespread currency throughout a culture. Having transcended its roots in sociological theory, the tipping point is now part of our everyday vernacular. We use it in scientific contexts to describe, for instance, the climatological point of no return that we'll hit if we allow average global temperatures to rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels. But we also use it to describe everything from resistance movements to the disenchantment of hockey fans when their team is on a losing streak.
By Mark Mancini
On Aug. 18, Iceland held a funeral for the first glacier lost to climate change. The deceased party was Okjökull, a historic body of ice that covered 14.6 square miles (38 square kilometers) in the Icelandic Highlands at the turn of the 20th century. But its glory days are long gone. In 2014, having dwindled to less than 1/15 its former size, Okjökull lost its status as an official glacier.
By Alex Schwartz
Among the many vendors at the Logan Square Farmers Market on Aug. 18 sat three young people peddling neither organic vegetables, gourmet cheese nor handmade crafts. Instead, they offered liberation from capitalism.
I’m a Psychotherapist – Here’s What I’ve Learned From Listening to Children Talk About Climate Change
By Caroline Hickman
Eco-anxiety is likely to affect more and more people as the climate destabilizes. Already, studies have found that 45 percent of children suffer lasting depression after surviving extreme weather and natural disasters. Some of that emotional turmoil must stem from confusion — why aren't adults doing more to stop climate change?