Dozens of Democratic lawmakers on Capitol Hill sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) on Monday demanding an end to the $20.5 billion in annual fossil fuel industry subsidies as part of the latest round of negotiations of President Joe Biden’s mammoth $3.5 trillion Build Back Better Act.
“We are writing to request that you include the repeal of fossil fuel subsidies in the Build Back Better Act. In his fiscal year 2022 budget, President Biden committed to the inclusion of $121 billion in revenue raised from repealing fossil fuel subsidies, which includes $86 billion from tax breaks for foreign oil and gas income. We are greatly appreciative of the President’s focus on repealing these harmful and wasteful subsidies. We support a deal that sufficiently enhances climate justice, especially in repealing fossil fuel subsidies. Congress must follow through in implementing the President’s vision,” the letter, which was signed by 54 Democrats, states.
“Fossil fuel subsidies should be repealed because, instead of enhancing American energy independence or creating jobs, they simply enhance the profits of fossil fuel companies. According to research from the Stockholm Environment Institute, ‘over 96% of the value of the subsidies in the tax code goes directly to profits over and above the minimum investment hurdle rates that would be required to actually make those new investments happen,'” it continues.
The signatories – finally – stressed the urgency of breaking our species’ addiction to oil if we are to survive global climate change.
“The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has stated clearly that the world has less than a decade left to make significant reductions in carbon pollution emissions. The IPCC is also explicit that fossil fuel subsidies must end,” they wrote, adding that eliminating taxpayer windfalls to oil giants is a racial justice issue.
“Black and Brown communities are disproportionately affected by fossil fuel pollution. Black people experience a pollution burden from harmful particulate matter that is 54% higher than that experienced by the overall population, due to the proximity of petrochemical and related facilities to their homes and neighborhoods,” they said. “In 2012 in the predominantly Black and Latinx city of Richmond, CA, emergency room visits increased sevenfold after pollution was released during a major fire at Chevron’s Richmond Refinery. Fracking wastewater wells and oil and gas flares in south Texas disproportionately harm Latinx communities.”
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Brandon is a political writer for the Hill Reporter specializing in current events, breaking news, and scientific discovery. Brandon holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Indiana University. He lives in New York City.