OILIGARCHY: How U.S. Taxpayers Are Subsidizing The World’s Biggest Fossil Fuel Companies

Source – theguardian.com

– Shell, ExxonMobil and Marathon Petroleum got subsidizes granted by politicians who received significant campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry, Guardian investigation reveals:

Related…Fossil fuels subsidised by $10 million a minute, says IMF: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2015/may/18/fossil-fuel-companies-getting-10m-a-minute-in-subsidies-says-imf

– The world’s biggest and most profitable fossil fuel companies are receiving huge and rising subsidies from U.S. taxpayers, a practice slammed as absurd by a presidential candidate given the threat of climate change.

A Guardian investigation of three specific projects, run by Shell, ExxonMobil and Marathon Petroleum, has revealed that the subsidizes were all granted by politicians who received significant campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry.

The Guardian has found that:

  • A proposed Shell petrochemical refinery in Pennsylvania is in line for $1.6bn (£1bn) in state subsidy, according to a deal struck in 2012 when the company made an annual profit of $26.8bn.
  • ExxonMobil’s upgrades to its Baton Rouge refinery in Louisiana are benefitting from $119m of state subsidy, with the support starting in 2011, when the company made a $41bn profit.
  • A jobs subsidy scheme worth $78m to Marathon Petroleum in Ohio began in 2011, when the company made $2.4bn in profit.

“At a time when scientists tell us we need to reduce carbon pollution to prevent catastrophic climate change, it is absurd to provide massive taxpayer subsidies that pad fossil-fuel companies’ already enormous profits,” said senator Bernie Sanders, who announced on 30 April he is running for president.

Sanders, with representative Keith Ellison, recently proposed an End Polluter Welfare Act, which they say would cut $135bn of US subsidies for fossil fuel companies over the next decade. “Between 2010 and 2014, the oil, coal, gas, utility, and natural resource extraction industries spent $1.8bn on lobbying, much of it in defense of these giveaways,” according to Sanders and Ellison.

In April, the president of the World Bank called for the subsidies to be scrapped immediately as poorer nations were feeling “the boot of climate change on their neck”. Globally in 2013, the most recent figures available,the coal, oil and gas industries benefited from subsidies of $550bn, four times those given to renewable energy.

“Subsidies to fossil fuel companies are completely inappropriate in this day and age,” said Stephen Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International, an NGO that analyses the costs of fossil fuels. OCI found in 2014 that US taxpayers were subsidizing fossil fuel exploration and production alone by $21bn a year. In 2009, President Barack Obama called on the G20 to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies but since then UN federal subsidies have risen by 45%.

“Climate science is clear that the vast majority of existing reserves will have to stay in the ground,” Kretzmann said. “Yet our government spends many tens of billions of our tax dollars – every year – making it more profitable for the fossil fuel industry to produce more.”

Tax credits, defined as a subsidy by the World Trade Organization, are a key route of support for the fossil fuel industry. Using the subsidy tracker tool created by the Good Jobs First group, the Guardian examined some of the biggest subsidies for specific projects.

Shell’s proposed $4bn plant in Pennsylvania is set to benefit from tax credits of $66m a year for 25 years. Shell has bought the site and has 10 supply contracts in place lasting up to 20 years, including from fracking companies extracting shale gas in the Marcellus shale field. The deal was struck by the then Republican governor, Tom Corbett, who received over $1m in campaign donations from the oil and gas industry. According to Guardian analysis of data compiled by Common Cause Pennsylvania, Shell have spent $1.2m on lobbying in Pennsylvania since 2011.

A Shell spokesman said: “Shell supports and endorses incentive programs provided by state and local authorities that improve the business climate for capital investment, economic expansion and job growth. Shell would not have access to these incentive programs without the support and approval from the representative state and local jurisdictions.”

ExxonMobil’s Baton Rouge refinery is the second-largest in the US. Since 2011, it has been benefitting from exemptions from industrial taxes, worth $118.9m over 10 years, according to the Good Jobs First database. The Republican governor of Louisiana, Bobby Jindal has expressed his pride in attracting investment from ExxonMobil. In state election campaigns between 2003 and 2013, he received 231 contributions from oil and gas companies and executives totaling $1,019,777, according to a list compiled by environmental groups.

A spokesman for ExxonMobil said: “ExxonMobil will not respond to Guardian inquiries because of its lack of objectivity on climate change reporting demonstrated by its campaign against companies that provide energy necessary for modern life, including newspapers.”

3 thoughts on “OILIGARCHY: How U.S. Taxpayers Are Subsidizing The World’s Biggest Fossil Fuel Companies

  1. Like everthing else, I don’t think the tax payer has much say in the matter. One vote every four years and the idiot who gets in does what he pleases.
    Leslie

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