Oil Change International

Exposing the true costs of fossil fuels

Dakota Access’s owners got over $650 million from taxpayers last year

Thousands have joined to oppose Dakota Access – so why are we subsidizing its construction? Photo: Flickr Creative Commons Peg Hunter.

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.

Read our briefing on subsidies to Dakota Access.

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.

Read more in our briefing on Dakota Access subsidies.

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.

Comments (15)

  1. Margaret C. McHugh says:

    Not the American way!

  2. Lesley Bogle says:

    Once again greed and big guzzling corporations getting ahead at the expense of the people, but more importantly, poisoning our earth. Where will we go, when this beautiful planet, is destroyed by man’s greed and corruption. I fear for my children and grandchildren, if we don’t all stand up for the right of humankind. I for one, are cheering and celebrating all the First Peoples and others as well, for there battle against this atrocity. Standing Rock is appropriately named.

  3. I am standing with the Standing Rock Tribe!
    We need to keep our fossil fuels in the ground. It is killing our Mother Earth. We don’t need to pollute our earth anymore! We have many safe renewable energy that will be taking over and keeping our world safe!
    Stop The greediest now, give all the taxpayers their money back!

    Truely.

    Carrie Boucher

  4. Mike Wilzoch says:

    Do you know if there is a systematic corporate campaign (legal, political, financial…) on the corporate entities, officers affiliates…? Feel free to reply on my email address.

  5. Richard Andrews says:

    Stop DAPL!

  6. I am so angry and I see so support for us, and we the people. Firmly we do not want these apathetic comps, doing business here.

    If a person not Warren Payroll or an honest judge would review, notably this is not safe ((humans First).

    I also question, how matter of fact Mr. Warren says he will proceed without permits. We do not work that way, he has an Oligarch going on and is outright denouncing our Global Laws, Human Rights, United Nations Native AMerican Treaty, and We The People feel a Coup d Tate coming on.

    Thank you

  7. Pamela Jackson says:

    Everyone should be calling and/or writing to the White House about this. You should be calling your representatives in Congress about this. There is power in numbers.

  8. Linda K Taylor says:

    You seem to ignore all the tax revenues this job will bring in. This is going to produce a lot of tax revenues when they start working on it. Hotel taxes, sales taxes and income taxes made during this project. What ever taxes they save building it will be made back off the employees building it. The pipeline will help our economy greatly in many ways.

  9. Jimmy Tidwell says:

    We need people to stand up. Hit the streets. Find an action near you at everydayofaction.org

  10. Gail Landy says:

    Why is the US government approving all these pipelines when renewable energy is available and affordable? I would rather my tax dollars be spent on modernizing the electric grid instead of subsidizing the DAPL. Native Americans have the right attitude toward the environment. Preserve the beauty of this country. Don’t deplete it.

  11. Mary Ann McDonald says:

    Shame on America’s government for continuing to pander to the fossil fuel industry! Not only are they contributing greatly to catastrophic climate change, but they are poisoning our water, land and air. They are destroying National parks and Indigenous sacred lands; they are contaminating our oceans, and creating a dangerous instability in our food and water safety. These companies also put our national security at risk: have you ever looked at an oil-and-gas pipeline map of the USA? These dangerous and volatile liquids cross every major waterway in the country… often multiple times. Any country that ever wanted to attack us would have the easiest time imaginable taking us down, simply by hitting pipelines. Check it out for yourselves, and then tell me how ‘safe’ they are… or why we shouldn’t be expanding our less-expensive and non-polluting solar and wind infrastructure and abandoning fossil fuels as fast as possible!

  12. VICKI SLAGLE says:

    ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! I AM SO TIRED OF WATCHING OUR IGNORANT GOVERNMENT DESTROY OUR COUNTRY!
    THEY ARE GREEDY FOOLS WHO CAN’T SEE BEYOND THE END OF THEIR NOSES.
    OUR PLANET CAN’T TAKE MUCH MORE OF THIS.

  13. Victoria Charnock says:

    Ms. Taylor, and friends, Please understand that the planet has been under attack for quite some time. Should we all, all global citizens , not understand this , nothing else but this, nothing else actually matters in terms of the work that needs to be accomplished, here and abroad.

    Oil companies and every other institution and corporate entity need to get on board, fast.

    The paradigm needs to shift. Mother nature needs us to get to work, now.

  14. Ms. Taylor,
    The construction jobs are temporary and so will the tax revenue be as well.
    Only approximately 40 full time jobs will be created. Not much of a tax base there.

    That seems like a pretty cheap price to sell clean water resources for.

    Once again, the monetary gain for a few people outweigh the desires and rights of the majority?

    How mush will you sell the health of your children and grandchildren for? That is what is truly at risk. The pollution that can and will come from this pipeline will cost hundreds of millions in health care.

    Will the oil companies pay for that ? no likely, BP still has not fulfilled it’s obligation from the Gulf Spill.

    So who really benefits from this a few people short term? But the rest of us pick up the tab for the destruction that is caused and the health problems that follow!

    So are you willing to give up the health of your family for a little short time gain?

    Funny that the people of Bismark said NO outright to this pipeline, so it was a moved to go through Indian Country and the President is allowing it to be shoved down the throats of Indian People.

    The only people who will profit from this pipeline in the long run is about 40 full time employees, some temporary employees and some temporary residual income, the pipeline and Donald Trump (an investor in this very pipeline). Those who are willing to sacrifice health for a little profit, deserve neither health nor profit.

  15. Personally, I think we should be making a LOT of noise about Donal Trumps connection to this pipeline. He is an investor and the Presidential Order pushing this pipeline through suggests that he is looking out for his own profits rather than the laws and regulations of the United States Government.

    He said he would run this country like a business and he. He is running it like it is his business.

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