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Written with Steve Kretzmann of Oil Change International

Leaders of 52 national and state organizations, including Earthworks, are demanding that the so-called Super Congress make elimination of government handouts to the oil, coal and gas industries a central part of the deficit reduction plan the panel is to present to the full Congress next month. (Read the letter to the members of the Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.) 

Eliminating subsidies to the fossil fuels industry could reduce the national debt by $122 billion over ten years while bettering the environment and public health for America’s families, the groups asserted:

“Americans of all political orientations strongly favor ending these subsidies to the oil, gas and coal industries. . . .  [M]ost Americans feel that Members of Congress are more responsive to their campaign donors than their constituents. Working to remove subsidies from the fossil fuel industry is one of the clearest ways you can help restore your constituents’ faith in the ability of Congress to represent them.”

Fossil fuel corporations do not need federal handouts in order to produce energy.

Over the last decade, the top five oil and gas companies alone reported over $1 trillion in profits, and another $71 billion in profits in just the first two quarters of 2011. Coal companies, which have received government aid for nearly a century, have seen their profits skyrocket in 2011. Peabody Energy, the largest private sector coal company, earned has already posted $461.3 million in profits in 2011. Consol Energy first quarter profits nearly doubled from 2010 to reach $192 million.

“While millions of Americans are unemployed, our institutions and infrastructure are crumbling, and we desperately need to invest in the clean renewable energy sources of the future, why on earth are we giving taxpayer money to fossil fuel industries that are swimming in record profits,” — Jennifer Krill, executive director of Earthworks

“There’s a direct connection between the plight of American families, the national financial crisis, and the record profits of oil, coal and gas companies. “We can’t afford to give these corporations handouts and they don’t deserve to get them.”
— Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club

“Who will Congress listen to – their donors or their constituents? The American people overwhelmingly want these subsidies to end – the only ones who don’t are Big Oil and Coal.”
— Steve Kretzmann, executive director of Oil Change International

The letter lists a range of subsidies that waste billions of dollars of taxpayers’ hard-earned money. A copy of the letter with a full list of signatories is available here.