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Environmentalists, Labor Advocates Call on Congress to end Oil Subsidies

More than 40 organizations wrote an open letter to Congress requesting that Congressional leaders pass the FAIR Energy Policy Act, which would phase out tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry. Signatories said the industry receives $4 billion an year in tax breaks. That’s money that could create more jobs in solar and wind or improve education throughout the country.

“Most of these tax preferences are exclusive to the oil industry and represent a conservative picture of the oil industry’s century-long subsidization. Meanwhile, oil companies pulled in $90 billion in 2014—even with lower oil prices,” They wrote in the letter.

Previous has shown that fossil fuels receive significantly more in subsidies than renewable energy. A study last year found that fossil fuel received 40 times in subsidies than renewables do.

The letter was signed by groups including Greenpeace, the National Education Association, VoteVets, Americans United for Change, and more. They called on Congress to eventually eliminate the following tax breaks: intangible drilling cost deductions, percentage depletion deduction, deduction for tertiary injectants, exception from passive loss limitations for oil and gas, amortization of geological and geophysical expenditures for independent producers, domestic manufacturing tax credit and marginal oil well incentives.

“We could send 166,000 kids to college every year with the $4 billion that is instead squandered on Big Oil,” Brad Woodhouse, President of Americans United for Change, explained.

“Oil companies receive billions in tax breaks, despite being among the world’s largest and most profitable corporations,” the groups wrote. “For too long, America has subsidized the oil industry’s bottom line at middle class Americans’ expense.”

“If we are phasing out tax credits for clean energy—something I oppose—then why are we still committing to permanently support the fossil fuel industries with tax preferences they don’t need?” said Senator Brian Schatz, a Democrat from Hawaii who sponsored that bill. “It is based on the very simple idea that there should be a level playing field for fossil fuels and clean energy.”

The campaign is complemented by the student-led campaign, #4billion4us, targeting the House of Representatives. Celebrities including Leonardo DiCaprio, Keegan-Michael Key and Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., have signed on in support of the campaign.

“Members of Congress have been a very lucrative investment for the oil industry,” said Stephen Kretzmann, the Executive Director of Oil Change USA. “For every $1 they put in in campaign contributions, they get back more than $188 in subsidies, even using these very conservative [Joint Committee on Taxation] subsidy figures.”

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