by Albert Ross — The federal government spent $24 billion in 2011 on energy subsidies, with three-quarters of that amount, $16 billion being used to help boost production of renewable and clean energy sources. A recent article on cnn.com by Steve Hargreaves reported that according to the Congressional Budget Office the fossil fuel industry only received $2.5 billion in tax break subsidies.
Hargreaves goes on to add that only a decade ago these figures were actually the other way round with the fossil fuel industry receiving the bulk of the federal government’s energy subsidies and favorable tax breaks. The CNN article claims that until 2008 the bulk of the energy subsidies went to the fossil fuel industry.
It’s no secret that the Bush administration had close ties with the oil industry, and Hargreaves points out that even as late as 2008 the Bush administration’s plan was to encourage an increase in production of domestic oil, which accounts for the bulk of the subsidies going to the fossil fuel industry. The issue of energy subsidies has long since been a debate that follows partisan policies. The Obama administration’s stimulus bill in 2009 kick started the increase of subsidies to clean, green renewable energy, something which the Republicans view as unfair – to the fossil fuel industry.
The issue is set to become a key issue in the upcoming presidential election. The Republicans favor a ‘level playing field’ in the energy market while the Democrats argue that subsidies for renewable energy sources such as wind and solar are vital to limit the damaging environmental effects of fossil fuels.
Mitt Romney’s campaign pledge to amend the clean air act to exclude carbon dioxide can be seen as blatant kick in the teeth for clean energy production – or more realistically a sign that the Republicans still prioritize corporate greed and making money over making a genuine effort to explore environmentally friendly energy alternatives. As a footnote, if you’re looking for Romney’s plan for the environment on this website you’ll be in for a tough time – it’s not listed on the ‘issues’ tab. / photo by Gregoire Vandenbussche
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