(Washington, DC – October 5, 2011) Today leaders of 52 national and state organizations sent a letter to the members of the Super Congress (formally known as the Congressional Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction) demanding that the elimination of government handouts to the oil, coal and gas industries be a central part of the deficit reduction plan they are to present to the full Congress by November 23rd.
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 these leaders asserted. “Americans of all political orientations strongly favor ending these subsidies to the oil, gas and coal industries” they wrote, adding that “[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.
“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,” says Michael Brune, Executive Director of the Sierra Club. “We can’t afford to give these corporations handouts and they don’t deserve to get them.”
“Who will Congress listen to – their donors or their constituents?” asks Steve Kretzmann, Executive Director of Oil Change International. “The American people overwhelmingly want these subsidies to end – the only ones who don’t are Big Oil and Coal.”
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.
Eddie Scher, Sierra Club (415-815-7027)
Steve Kretzmann, Oil Change International (202- 497-1033)
Oil Change International and the Sierra Club are founding members of the Dirty Energy Money Campaign, a multi-organizational effort to confront and reduce the political influence of the fossil fuel industry in Congress.