Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

Help Support EcoWatch

Omar, Sanders Lead Bill to End Destructive Taxpayer Subsidies for Fossil Fuels

Energy
U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders (D-Vt.) and U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) in Washington, DC in June 2019. Michael Brochstein / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images

By Eoin Higgins

Progressive Democrats led by Rep. Ilhan Omar and Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday introduced a bill to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and other industry giveaways, calling taxpayer support of the climate-killing business — a counterproductive and dangerous use of federal funds as the climate crisis worsens and Americans suffer through an economic downturn sparked by the coronavirus pandemic.


"It's past time we end the billions of taxpayer subsidies to fossil-fuel companies," said Omar, a Minnesota Democrat. "Our focus right now needs to be on getting the American people through this difficult, unprecedented time, not providing giveaways to polluters."

"Taxpayers provide $15 billion in direct federal subsidies to the fossil fuel industry every year," she added. "That ends with this bill."

Omar and Sanders, an independent from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, were joined in leading the End Polluter Welfare Act by Sens. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) as well as Rep. Nanette Barragan (D-Calif.).

"At a time when we are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and an economic decline, it is absurd to provide billions of taxpayer subsidies that pad fossil-fuel companies' already-enormous profits," said Sanders.

"We need more safe, healthy, good paying jobs," he added, "not more corporate polluter giveaways."

Twitter

The bill would close tax loopholes, end taxpayer-funded subsidies, and bar the use of federal lands for resource extraction and federal funding for fossil fuel research.

"It is ridiculous that the federal government continues to hand out massive giveaways to antiquated fossil fuel industries that are not only financially risky, but are also destroying our planet," said Merkley.

President Donald Trump's administration has prioritized giveaways to the fossil fuel industry throughout his presidency, including as the pandemic wreaks havoc on the country.

The legislation is co-sponsored in the House by Reps. Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.), Mark Takano (D-Calif.), Jesús "Chuy" Garcia (D-Ill.), Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.), Joseph Kennedy (D-Mass.), Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.), Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), and Jimmy Gomez (D-Calif.).

According to a press release from Omar's office, the bill:

would also guarantee the continued solvency of the Black Lung Disability Fund to ensure continued medical care for tens of thousands of working-class Americans who worked hard for decades to provide energy for the nation. Fossil fuel drilling and transportation also disproportionately impact indigenous communities and communities of color, who have long opposed extraction on their land.

Activists and climate advocates like Greenpeace USA climate campaigner Charlie Jiang welcomed the legislation.

"It is outrageous that the federal government has exploited a pandemic to throw even more public money at the industry that created and profited from the climate crisis," said Jiang. "A bill to end giveaways for the fossil fuel industry—which is saddled with debt and recklessly polluting Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities—is long overdue. It's time to shift our investments to protect people on the frontlines of the climate crisis and support fossil fuel workers in the transition to a world beyond fossil fuels."

While the bill faces an uphill battle, it was nonetheless seen as a good sign by Earth Island Institute's International Marine Mammal Project, executive director Mark Palmer said in a statement.

"The fossil fuels industry must change to avoid the worst effects of global warming, which is already upon us," Palmer said. "This legislation is a giant step towards reining in the pollution from oil and gas development, and we wholeheartedly endorse it."

As the country reels from the coronavirus pandemic, said Oil Change International senior campaigner Collin Rees, the bill represents an important readjustment of priorities.

"The End Polluter Welfare Act is critically needed legislation at a pivotal moment," said Rees. "We must stop propping up oil, gas, and coal with public money and invest in the people and communities most impacted by systemic oppression, Covid-19, and the climate crisis."

Markey, who was also a lead sponsor of bicameral Green New Deal legislation along with Ocasio-Cortez, sounded a similar note in comments about the new bill.

"We should be providing support for workers and those affected by Trump's criminally-negligent response to the pandemic — not bailing out the fossil fuel industry and propping up its profit margins," said Markey. "Trump is only trying to add to these decades-long payouts for polluters, when we should be directing our resources to keeping people safe."

Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden speaks during a White House Clean Energy Investment Summit on June 16, 2015 in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DC. Alex Wong / Getty Images

By Jake Johnson

With presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden's climate platform becoming increasingly ambitious thanks to nonstop grassroots pressure, fossil fuel executives and lobbyists are pouring money into the coffers of President Donald Trump's reelection campaign in the hopes of keeping an outspoken and dedicated ally of dirty energy in the White House.

Read More Show Less
The Food and Drug Administration is now warning against more than 100 potentially dangerous hand sanitizers.
Antonio_Diaz / Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is now warning against more than 100 potentially dangerous hand sanitizers.

Read More Show Less
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo speaks at a news conference on July 1, 2020 in New York City. Byron Smith / Getty Images

While the nation overall struggles with rising COVID cases, New York State is seeing the opposite. After peaking in March and April and implementing strict shutdowns of businesses, the state has seen its number of positive cases steadily decline as it slowly reopens. From coast-to-coast, Governor Andrew Cuomo's response to the crisis has been hailed as an exemplar of how to handle a public health crisis.

Read More Show Less
A whale shark swims in the Egyptian Red Sea. Derek Keats / Wikimedia Commons / CC by 2.0

By Gavin Naylor

Sharks elicit outsized fear, even though the risk of a shark bite is infinitesimally small. As a marine biologist and director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, I oversee the International Shark Attack File – a global record of reported shark bites that has been maintained continuously since 1958.

Read More Show Less
A girl sits under a temporary shade made by joining two bed in Churu, Rajasthan on June 4, 2019. Temperatures in the Indian desert city hit 50 degrees C (122 F) for the second time in three days, sending residents scrambling for shade. MONEY SHARMA / AFP via Getty Images

Current efforts to curb an infectious disease show the potential we have for collective action. That action and more will be needed if we want to stem the coming wave of heat-related deaths that will surpass the number of people who die from all infectious diseases, according to a new study, as The Guardian reported.

Read More Show Less
America Pikas are found from the Sierra Nevada to the Rocky Mountains, and have been migrating to higher elevations. Jon LeVasseur / Flickr / Public Domain

By Jenny Morber

Caribbean corals sprout off Texas. Pacific salmon tour the Canadian Arctic. Peruvian lowland birds nest at higher elevations.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Biologists are studying the impact of climate change on the Nenets and their reindeer herds. Deutsche Welle

Biologist Egor Kirillin is on a special mission. Deep in the Siberian wilderness in the Russian Republic of Sakha, he waits on the Olenjok river until reindeer come thundering into the water.

Read More Show Less