FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 23, 2024

Contact:
Collin Rees, collin@priceofoil.org
Cassidy DiPaola,
cassidy@fossilfree.media

Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ilhan Omar Reintroduce the End Polluter Welfare Act with Broad Support from Over 300 Organizations

Legislation aims to end billions in annual subsidies to the fossil fuel industry

WASHINGTON, DC — Today, Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Representative Ilhan Omar (D-MN) reintroduced the End Polluter Welfare Act, the most comprehensive legislative proposal in the United States Congress to address the billions in special interest subsidies that disproportionately flow to the oil, gas, and coal industries. The reintroduction comes with the support of over 300 environmental, climate, consumer protection, and frontline organizations who have signed an organizational letter backing the legislation. 

Read the support letter: https://priceofoil.org/content/uploads/2024/05/End-Polluter-Welfare-Act-–-support-letter_2024_final.pdf

The End Polluter Welfare Act aims to rein in the corporate power of the polluting fossil fuel industry, lower climate emissions, reduce related harm in frontline communities, and raise USD 170 billion in revenue over the next ten years by eliminating tax loopholes, giveaway leasing rules, and investments in false solutions that keep fossil fuel projects alive.

In the letter, the signatories state,

“The End Polluter Welfare Act is the most comprehensive legislative proposal to address the billions in special interest subsidies that disproportionately flow to the oil, gas, and coal industries. These subsidies include century-old tax loopholes, giveaway leasing rules for extraction on our public lands and waters, and newer investments of billions into false solutions that keep fossil fuel projects alive for decades longer through investments from export credit and development finance agencies.”

The letter also emphasizes the urgent need to end taxpayer subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, stating,

“We must end the $170 billion in taxpayer subsidies for the fossil fuel industry. With major provisions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 expiring in 2025, there is an opportunity to pass critical tax reform legislation and ensure that fossil fuel corporations finally pay their fair share.”

Among the over 300 signatories are prominent organizations such as Oil Change International, the Sierra Club, Greenpeace USA, Friends of the Earth U.S., Oxfam America, People’s Action, Public Citizen, Sunrise Movement, WE ACT for Environmental Justice, 350.org, and the League of Conservation Voters.

“The conduct of the fossil fuel industry toward the American people and their distortion of the truth about climate change is one of the biggest scandals of our lifetime,” said U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders. “At a time when scientists tell us we need to drastically reduce carbon pollution to prevent climate catastrophe, when fossil fuel companies are making billions of dollars in profit every year, and when working people across this country are living paycheck to paycheck, we have a fiscal and moral responsibility to put a stop to this absurd corporate welfare. No, working families should not be forced to pad the profits of an industry that is destroying our planet.”

“American taxpayers have been forced to foot the bill for corporate handouts propping up the fossil fuel industry that is driving the climate crisis,” said U.S. Representative Ilhan Omar. “With the End Polluter Welfare Act, we’re putting a stop to these subsidies that accelerate environmental devastation. It’s time to transfer that revenue to invest in a clean energy future that protects our environment. I choose to fight for our children’s right to a healthy planet and economy powered by renewable sources, not wealthy CEOs’ profits.”

The reintroduction of the End Polluter Welfare Act in the Senate and House of Representatives marks a significant push to address the urgent climate crisis and hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for its role in exacerbating the problem. The broad support from organizations across the country demonstrates the growing demand for bold action to combat climate change and protect frontline communities.

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Additional quotes from signers of the support letter:

Collin Rees, United States Program Manager at Oil Change International: 

“The End Polluter Welfare Act is a critical step toward reorienting our government’s priorities away from one of the deadliest industries in the history of the planet — fossil fuels. New research shows that the eight major oil companies alone could use up 30% of the remaining global carbon budget to stay under 1.5ºC. Fossil fuel producers don’t deserve public money — these climate arsonists deserve public shame and a quick end to their existence.”

Mahyar Sorour, Director of Beyond Fossil Fuels Policy at Sierra Club: 

“Fossil fuel companies have raked in astronomical profits at the expense of communities while Big Oil and Gas lobbyists actively work to keep us hooked on their polluting products that perpetuate the climate crisis. It is absurd that taxpayers should then also provide a blank check through subsidies, corporate giveaways, and sweetheart deals. We must end the billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies to the fossil fuel industry.” 

Zanagee Artis, Executive Director of Zero Hour: 

“The fossil fuel industry lied for decades about the devastation their products wreak on communities, ecosystems, and the climate. All the while, taxpayers have spent billions of dollars to support their operations. It is outrageous that the public is being forced to subsidize an industry that is destroying our air, our water, and our chances at a livable future. It is time to end fossil fuel subsidies.”

Tom BK Goldtooth, Executive Director of the Indigenous Environmental Network: 

“The fossil fuel industry functions because federal government subsidies ensure the longevity of the institutions driving the climate crisis. To protect the sacredness of Mother Earth, we must redirect subsidies away from the fossil fuel industries and false solutions.” 

Kate DeAngelis, Senior International Finance Program Manager at Friends of the Earth U.S.: 

“This bill would force the U.S. government to finally end its disastrous financing of fossil fuel projects around the world. The same billions that have enriched Exxon have also fueled violence, displaced thousands, and wreaked environmental havoc in places like Mozambique, Guyana, and Mexico. Congress must put a stop to this reckless funding by passing the End Polluter Welfare Act.”

Rev. Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith: 

“It’s blatantly immoral to subsidize corporations to destroy the planet, which is why the End Polluter Welfare Act must become law and be vigorously enforced. The well-being of the Earth and all its inhabitants is what is sacred, not the fossil fuel industry’s bottom line.” 

Daniel Mulé, Policy Manager for Just Energy Transition & Extractives at Oxfam America:
“Oxfam proudly endorses the End Polluter Welfare Act. It is long past time to eliminate the tax giveaways and public support that prop up oil, gas, and coal companies on the public’s dime. As Congress considers the need for climate investments and significant reforms to the tax code, ending fossil fuel subsidies is crucial for tackling the climate crisis, funding a just energy transition, and protecting marginalized communities, including those impacted by extraction.” 

Saul Levin, Political Director of the Green New Deal Network:

“The End Polluter Welfare Act is the gold standard for how we can stop spending government dollars propping up the oil and gas industry and start spending them on keeping people safe from climate change and dangerous pollution. The money saved should be invested in the green schools, housing, and transportation we need for a Green New Deal for our communities.”

Russell Armstrong, Senior Director of Campaigns & Advocacy at Hip Hop Caucus:

“Subsidizing fossil fuel companies that already receive hundreds of billions yearly in financing from big banks is madness when communities are still struggling to recover from health crises and natural disasters. The United States can’t be serious about ending its addiction to fossil fuels — predominantly based in frontline communities being sacrificed for multinational profits — unless we end taxpayer subsidies for these oil, gas, and coal producers. This legislation, which ends liability loopholes and tax credits for companies that pollute onshore and offshore lands and waters, particularly in the Gulf South, is a major step toward climate justice.” 

Cheyenne Rendon, Senior Policy Officer at Society of Native Nations: 

“Our nation must lead by example and prioritize health and human rights over false solutions such as fossil fuels. We must end taxpayer subsidies that boost oil and gas projects’ viability and mandate responsibility systems to hold producers accountable across the entire fossil fuel supply chain. Our people — including Indigenous Peoples, workers, youth, and fenceline communities — are already sick and dying. Why must they also pay for this indignity in taxpayer subsidies? Passing this critical tax reform and ending funding from export credit and development finance agencies is one of the many necessary steps to hold fossil fuel corporations accountable.” 

Sikowis Nobiss, Plains Cree / Saulteaux, Executive Director of Great Plains Action Society:

“Special interest subsidies for the oil, gas, and coal industries are but state-sanctioned continuance of Christian-colonial-capitalist land theft and environmental degradation. This greedy and corrupt practice, steeped in over 500 years of Indigenous genocide, has created the current climate emergency wherein the living things on this Earth now face extinction.” 

Wenonah Hauter, Executive Director of Food & Water Watch: 

“In order to achieve a rapid transition off fossil fuels, we must implement provisions that halt the current massive handouts for oil and gas companies. We simply cannot afford to keep subsidizing an industry that is poisoning our climate and communities — an industry literally killing us. Congress must pass the End Polluter Welfare Act now.” 

Jessica Roff, Plastics & Petrochemicals Program Manager for United States & Canada, Global Alliance for Incinerator Alternatives:

“The fossil fuel industry will do anything to protect its bottom line, harming generations of frontline, fenceline, environmental justice, Black, brown, low-wealth, and Indigenous Peoples around the world. There is no excuse for our government using our tax dollars to perpetuate these harms for industry profit. The U.S. government is actively investing in industry’s greenwashed incineration, incentivizing more investment in plastics while weakly promoting demand-side measures in international instruments like the Global Plastic Treaty. It’s past time to stop extraction, drastically reduce plastic production, and stop giving handouts to an industry set on destroying our communities and the planet.” 

Marc Yaggi, Chief Executive Officer of Waterkeeper Alliance: 

“As the climate emergency escalates and the threats to our water and communities multiply, existing policies continue to hinder progress by rewarding the root cause of our challenges and enabling the fossil fuel industry to amass record profits. Eliminating subsidies for this industry is a commonsense approach to speed up the necessary transition away from fossil fuels and to meet our international climate commitments.” 

Jeff Ordower, North America Director of 350.org: 

“I can’t believe that in 2024 we are STILL discussing subsidies for energy sources that destroy the planet and put frontline and Indigenous communities at risk. We urgently need to be talking about how U.S. industrial policy can promote and incentivize renewables instead so that we minimize further damage and transition justly.” 

Natalie Mebane, Vice President of Government Affairs at Rise to Thrive: 

?“At a time when we are on the brink of passing 1.5ºC of warming and scientists have been begging us to pay attention to this crisis, we are funding our own destruction. Polluters should be paying for their crimes against the climate and the communities that they have harmed, not getting a handout from taxpayers. It is time to end polluter welfare.”

Jean Tepperman, Coordinator of Sunflower Alliance: 

“It is suicidal for our tax dollars to continue to support the fossil fuel industry that’s destroying our health and our future. Fossil fuels are losing the race to clean energy — it’s time to accelerate that trend and support the energy of the future, not the energy of the past. Congress must pass the End Polluter Welfare Act now.” 

Dr. Lynn Ringenberg, Physicians for Social Responsibility Florida: 

“Children have long lives ahead compared to most members of the House and Senate, which means our kids and grandkids will continue to be harmed for decades to come from continued fossil fuel expansion. It is past time for Congress to step up and end fossil fuel subsidies! We must instead provide these funds to improve good health and safety in our communities, especially those that are disproportionately impacted and harmed by fossil fuels.” 

Hailey Campbell, Co-Executive Director of Care About Climate: 

“It’s ironic that we pay taxes that fund our death and destruction rather than safeguard an equitable future. Meanwhile, climate action remains critically underfunded. Redirecting the billions currently allocated to fossil fuel subsidies would boost the crucial climate finance we need to meet climate goals.” 

Bonnie Sundance, Executive Director of Our Sacred Earth: 

“To continue to financially support harm to the planet and people is unwise. We are in times which require wisdom, care, and careful action on behalf of our present and future. The End Polluter Welfare Act is a step in the right direction, and should be accompanied by redirecting subsidies away from Big Agriculture and other industries contributing to global warming.” 

Drew Hudson, Founder at 198 methods:

“Fossil fuels are killing the planet and we’re paying them to do it with taxpayer funds. We strongly support the End Polluter Welfare Act and look forward to the day it is enacted so we can stop paying the fossil fuel industry for harming our climate, communities, and common home.”

Pauline Seales, Santa Cruz Climate Action Network: 

“If we fail to act quickly, climate change will have disastrous effects for most of the world’s population. Oil companies are the major perpetrators of this crime against humanity. Ending their public subsidies should start right now.” 

Rudy Salakory, Conservation Director, Friends of the Columbia Gorge: 

“It’s madness to think that we can phase out fossil fuels while providing financial incentives and subsidies to one of the most lucrative industries in the world. Climate change brings uncertainty and stress to the ecologies, economies, and communities of the Columbia River Gorge. We must work together to build a future free of fossil fuels while we ameliorate the effects of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and in the oceans. The End Polluter Welfare Act is a much needed step in that direction at a meaningful scale.”

Tamela Trussell, Founder of Move Past Plastic:

“Profits, urgency, and a lack of oversight often lead the petrochemical industry to violate regulatory permits and fail to report these violations. Our policy of self-reporting and a lack of enforcement is a crime taxpayers pay both upfront and throughout our lives. Harms to health, tourism, ecological biodiversity, our climate, and our lands and agriculture cost taxpayers greatly. Regulatory violations perpetuate the crimes, and economic and health burdens on frontline communities, the general population, and our ecosystems. If industry actors are unable and unwilling to follow the rules, they should not get federal and state tax breaks and subsidies.” 

Anne Sparks, Steering Committee Member at Save Ohio Parks: 

“Knowing that the climate crisis can no longer be ignored, the fossil fuel industry has responded by increasing efforts to maximize profits, even pushing to receive subsidies for unproven technologies to ‘solve’ the crisis it created. Americans know drastic measures are needed to avoid disaster and are wondering why a climate emergency with a full suite of coordinated, goal-driven policies has not been declared. Save Ohio Parks supports the End Polluter Welfare Act as a concrete action necessary to sharply curtail greenhouse gas emissions.”

Dr. Robert Gould, President of San Francisco Bay Physicians for Social Responsibility:

“The fossil fuel industry harms the health of our children and the climate, jeopardizing their future. Big Oil and Coal should be paying to repair the damage they have caused — not receiving taxpayer subsidies to continue their destruction. Our representatives are overly influenced by Big Oil’s big money — we need to change that so they are truly representing us, the voters, and protecting our communities.”

Kevin Cawley, Deignan Institute for Earth & Spirit at Iona University: 

“As Thomas Berry writes, ‘We have become so acclimated to an industrial world that we can hardly imagine any other context of survival, even when we recognize the industrial bubble is dissolving and will soon leave us in the chill of a plundered landscape. The difficulty is in the order of magnitude of change that is required of us. None of our former revelatory experiences, none of our renewal or rebirth rituals, none of our apocalyptic descriptions are quite adequate for this moment.’ We must pass the End Polluter Welfare Act now.”

Julia Cohen, Co-Founder & Managing Director of Plastic Pollution Coalition: 

“Instead of incentivizing polluters’ harm to human and environmental health and perpetuating environmental injustices, taxpayer dollars should be spent on exactly the opposite: Protecting people and the planet by incentivizing real solutions to fossil fuel and plastic pollution, and providing help to those disproportionately forced to bear the brunt of industrial pollution. This bill helps move us in the direction necessary for the survival of humanity.” 

Peggy Baker, Rio Arriba Concerned Citizens:

“As a grassroots organization in New Mexico, we are wholly opposed to use of ‘produced’ fracking water, which is exacerbating our water crisis. Water for use on small family farms and Indigenous lands is already showing documented contamination from oil and gas extraction. These impacts are the direct results of 40 years of heavy subsidization of fossil fuel development and exemption from effective regulatory oversight and enforcement. Oil and gas profits do not support the regions most harmed, but rather flow to make the rich richer. We must end this polluter welfare and invest in our futures.”

RL Miller, Climate Hawks Vote: 

“I’m sure all the Members of Congress deeply concerned about smart budgeting, deficits, and inflation will rush to endorse the End Polluter Welfare Act. Right? Right?”

Todd Fernandez, Director, Climate Crisis Policy & The Earth Bill Network: 

“Too many United Nations IPCC scientists in 2024 believe we will hit 3ºC global heating, which is a doomsday scenario for the future. We need to outlaw climate pollution now, with federal mandates on industry to transition off of fossil fuels. We must stop funding our suicide and double down on survival while we still have time, or the future will never forgive us. If we were acting responsibly, we would cut all fossil fuel subsidies and unite to pass The Earth Bill (HR 598)!” 

Will Brieger, 350 Sacramento: 

“Like the federal government, my state of California spends billions of dollars to regulate pollution from petroleum combustion and spills, to fight climate change, and to develop alternatives to petroleum. Why should we send tax money to promote more petroleum production or otherwise enable the industry? That will require even more expenditure to clean up after them.” 

Rev. Richenda Fairhurst, Board Member of Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon & Oregon Interfaith Power & Light:

“What we choose to invest in says a lot about who we are as moral people. Not only do dollars spent on fossil fuels continue to perpetuate the harms of the fossil fuel industry, but this deadly cycle also denies us the opportunity to invest in better things, save lives, restore the planet, and choose a more just way of life. My home state of Oregon values the natural world, and by our faith it is God’s creation. What benefit does it bring us to invest in industry driving a climate crisis that upsets ecological balance, kills millions of trees, diminishes snowpack, closes our fisheries, and disrupts our beautiful wilderness? Let us make the moral choice — stop investing in fossil fuels and instead invest in an economy of well-being, for a clean, just, and beautiful future.”

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