Viewpoint: Congressman Fred Upton to be applauded for reviewing fossil fuel subsidies

Attributed Authors: Doug Koplow and Gabe Elsner Published: Dec 2012

As a researcher, and a as co-director of watchdog group that have both worked to draw attention to the significant subsidies and tax breaks that are lavished on the fossil fuel industry, we are eager to see elected officials take notice of this waste of taxpayer money, especially as the President and Congress work to address the fiscal cliff disaster. That is why we are pleased that a member of Congress with an important platform has recently joined us in this conversation to review fossil fuels’ role in distorting the free market for energy. Recently, Fred Upton (R-St. Joseph), chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee stated, “I’m for putting all of these [energy sources] on an even footing. Let’s look at the oil and gas subsidies; let’s take them away. Let’s let them compete just like everyone else at the same level.”

We agree. All energy sources should compete on a level playing field. We support Upton’s request for the U.S. Government Accountability Office, our nonpartisan, federal auditing agency, to conduct a true and complete accounting of federal energy subsidies to all sources. With the additions that Reps. Ed Markey, (D-MA) and Rush Holt (D-NJ) made to the request, we believe the final report should provide an accurate look at this issue.

In the past, similar Congressional-led analyses have gamed the research scope to under-count subsidies to fossil fuels and nuclear. Special corporate structures, exempt from corporate income taxes but dominated by oil and gas firms, were ignored. Deductions to industry were extended to include the value of extracted oil and gas as manufacturing. Costs to stockpile oil against supply disruptions were not counted either. In other countries, these costs are routinely paid by oil companies or oil consumers, rather than funded by taxpayers. Large subsidies to move bulk oil and coal were disregarded as well, as were large giveaways of federally-owned fossil reserves.

Full article online here.

Tags: subsidy reform oil and gas subsidies Government Accountability Office Fred Upton