March 26, 2021

New Casten Bill Will End Taxpayer Subsidies to Oil and Gas Companies

Washington, D.C.Today, U.S. Reps. Sean Casten (D-IL), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Donald McEachin (D-VA), and Katie Porter (D-CA) reintroduced legislation that would eliminate nearly a dozen of the most egregious tax breaks enjoyed by the oil and gas industry.

The oil and gas sectors are some of the world's most profitable industries, with billions of dollars in earnings each year. Despite this success, these fossil fuel companies receive billions in tax breaks and subsidies annually, undermining the nation's ability to invest in renewable energy sources and damaging our environment.

The End Oil and Gas Tax Subsidies Act would eliminate 11 of these provisions in the tax code that unfairly benefit oil and gas companies. Not only would the legislation ensure the United States is no longer providing tax subsidies to oil and gas at the expense of clean energy, but it would also increase the competitiveness of the energy industry.

"Forcing taxpayers to subsidize a failing industry that's massively distorting energy markets and accounted for nearly 1 in 5 global deaths in 2018 alone isn't just bad policy, it's antithetical to free-market capitalism," Casten said. "When Adam Smith wrote about the power of market capitalism's ‘invisible hand' to adequately ensure a fair and efficient exchange of goods and services, he probably didn't envision the U.S. government subsidizing a sector that's seen prices decline by 72 percent in the last decade. With fossil fuels continuing to receive $650 billion a year in direct and indirect U.S. subsidies, Smith's invisible hand functions as a marionette puppet's pulled by the strings of big oil and gas at the expense of American taxpayers. Our bill to end fossil fuel subsidies will unrig our energy markets, lower emissions, and protect public health."

"Oil and gas are the last industries that should be getting a tax break. In fact, it's the planet that needs a break from the very companies that have contributed so much to the climate emergency," Blumenauer said. "It's unconscionable that we continue to spend billions in tax subsidies to line the pockets of big oil and gas companies and incentivize the extraction of fossil fuels. We should be investing in clean energy technologies and jobs that will put Americans to work and fight the climate crisis."

"For too long, dirty energy companies have enjoyed billions of dollars in federal tax breaks and subsidies each year – a direct attack on our nation's health and ability to combat climate change. Instead of incentivizing the continued extraction of fossil fuels, we must end these subsidies and advance legislation, like the End Oil and Gas Tax Subsidies Act, to stop the federal government from rewarding dirty polluters," McEachin said. "By prioritizing federal assistance away from fossil fuels and toward the continued growth and expansion of clean renewable energies, we can protect public health and our environment, and continue to bolster the green jobs and infrastructure America needs to power a better, more sustainable future."

"It is anti-capitalist to give special tax breaks to oil and gas companies that other businesses don't get—it restricts the competition we need for healthy capitalism," Porter said. "Giveaways to Big Oil are bad for our economy, bad for our planet, and bad for American taxpayers, who pay their fair shares while polluters get a discount. I'm proud to help reintroduce the End Oil and Gas Tax Subsidies Act to bring a little more fairness to our tax code."

The United States emitted more than 6.5 billion tons of greenhouse gases in 2019. The burning of fossil fuel, particularly in the power and transportation sectors, produces three-quarters of total U.S. carbon emissions. Moving away from oil and gas, or at least no longer subsidizing it, is a critical part of our commitment to address the climate crisis.

The legislation introduced today in the House is support by the Earthjustice, Earthworks, Food & Water Watch, Friends of the Earth, Oxfam America, and the Sierra Club.

"For far too long, the oil and gas industry has benefited by not paying its fair share. This legislation would eliminate nearly a dozen of the most egregious tax breaks from which the oil and gas industry disproportionately benefits. Lining the pockets of industry executives who are driving the climate crisis is unacceptable. Instead, we must build a sustainable future – not by investing in fossil fuels – but by protecting our environment and communities. This bill gets us on the right track, and we applaud Representatives Blumenauer, Casten, and McEachin for their leadership," said Patrick Grenter, Associate Director at the Sierra Club.

Full text of the legislation is available here.