By Alex Doukas and Collin Rees
In the last few weeks, the owners of the Dakota Access Pipeline project have sent attack dogs after protesters, dug up archaeological sites sacred to local Native American tribes, and defied the recommendations of the federal government to temporarily pause construction on a small section of the proposed pipeline route.
It’s clear they are no friends to the water protectors and land defenders like the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe who have been mobilizing against the construction of this dangerous pipeline for many months now. But perhaps even worse, all of this unconscionable behavior is fueled by hundreds of millions of dollars in federal subsidies each year.
Because of a clause that allows many pipeline companies to avoid paying ANY corporate income tax whatsoever, wealthy pipeline owners are saving huge sums of public money that we could be spending on health, education, and environmental protection. Subsidizing the Dakota Access Pipeline is like paying arsonists to burn down a building – it’s insanely reckless and destructive, and a terrible waste of money. But it’s true that it might create a few jobs, since somebody has to clean up that mess.
We calculated the value of just one of the many subsidies enjoyed by the Dakota Access Pipeline’s two biggest owners – Enbridge Energy Partners and Energy Transfer Partners – and found that together they avoided paying over $650 million in 2015 as a result of their corporate structures and this gaping loophole.
What’s more, the ridiculous structure of federal pipeline regulations – set by FERC, a federal government agency funded by the fossil fuel industry – actually allows pipeline companies to charge their customers for the taxes they never paid. This cost gets passed along to consumers, meaning we could be subsidizing Dakota Access even more than we thought.
These are just two of the many fossil fuel subsidies enjoyed by the companies that own Dakota Access, but these numbers alone are shocking. It’s time to protect water, land, and native sovereignty, stop the Dakota Access pipeline from being built, and end this wasteful use of taxpayer dollars immediately.