Oil Change International

Exposing the true costs of fossil fuels

Unequal Exchange: How Taxpayers Shoulder the Burden of Fossil Fuel Development on Federal Lands

Oil Change International
With 350.org, WildEarth Guardians, Center for Biological Diversity, Clean Water Action, Food & Water Watch, and Public Citizen 

May 2017

Download the full report.

UnequalExchange-thumbKey findings of this report include:

  • Fossil fuel production on federal lands – onshore and offshore territories – was subsidized to the tune of at least $7 billion in 2014. This number is likely a low estimate, as it does not account for the many subsidies that we identified, but did not include, for which reliable cost estimates were not available. It also does not include subsidies from the federal government and in the tax code not explicitly directed to fossil fuel production on federal lands.
  • The ability of oil, gas, and coal producers to shift potential future liability onto taxpayers is also a major subsidy, but because it is difficult to calculate precisely, it is not included in the subsidy totals presented here. U.S. taxpayers’ contingent liability for decommissioning and cleanup of oil and gas projects in the Gulf of Mexico alone is estimated to be $35.3 billion by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).
  • Incorporating climate damage caused by fossil fuels produced on federal lands makes the economic argument for ending new leases on federal lands and waters even stronger. In the case of coal from the Powder River Basin, an area of active federal coal leases, every short ton of coal produced has a net cost to American taxpayers of $49 dollars. That means that Powder River Basin coal production alone – only a small sliver of fossil fuel production on federal lands nationwide – had a net cost to taxpayers of $17.8 billion in 2015, dwarfing the supposed economic benefits of allowing new fossil fuel leases on federal lands and waters.
  • Removing these subsidies would save taxpayers money while also reducing greenhouse gas emissions from oil, gas, and coal production. The $7 billion in subsidies to fossil fuel companies could nearly double current support levels for mandatory computer science education programs for all public school students. It could pay for fixing the lead-contaminated water system in Flint, MI, and still cover the cost necessary for researchers to accelerate the development of new cancer detection and treatments – more than six times over.

Read the full report here.

 

Comments (3)

  1. Janet Greeny says:

    I was a pipefitter in the ’80s…….ur Union pay was subsidized by the Gov. for Fluor, Arco, and one other Contractor. Every day we showed up to work (wether we had anything to do or not) /they got paid! We would spend weeks installing a pipe/fitting, only to turn around and get a “revision” for that same piece……….to remove it…….but dated “pre-installation! It went on until they broke the Union…….using all of our tax dollars.

  2. I’m glad someone is thinking clearly.

    There’s so much work to do.

    IdleNoMoreSFBay has 2 more “Refinery Corridor Healing Walks planned for 6/11/17 and in July.

    BAAQMD is considering loosening the restrictions on refinery emmissions over an area they’ve named the “sacrifice zone” all inhabited areas, in a public meeting Wed 5/31 in SF.

  3. Ina Hillebrandt says:

    “Sacrifice Zone” says so much. The fossil fuel industry has already performed criminal acts against humanity by withholding and distorting science facts regarding the harm they are doing to the planet. At this point in time, to spread this harmful industry, further invade our critical public lands and despoil them, for wildlife, and humans, is unthinkable. Add to this using taxpayer dollars. Scurrilous. And short-sighted. Even industry is turning to RENEWABLES BECAUSE THEY ARE CHEAPER. I urge you to reject this terrible plan!

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