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Tuesday Tax Tradeoff: Protect the Environment OR Give Tax Breaks to Oil Companies

By William Rice, Policy Consultant, Americans for Tax Fairness

AFTF_or_graphic_7_largeFrom national parks to solar power to basic research, the U.S. government funds programs that help us preserve, understand and make wiser use of our natural environment. The government also funds — through obsolete and illogical tax breaks — the oil and gas industry. But since the five biggest oil companies last year had combined profits of $118 billion, it’s not hard to think of better uses for those public dollars.

Environmental, energy and science programs are spread throughout the government, but are particularly concentrated in the Energy and Interior Departments, EPA, NASA, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Science Foundation. The across the-board budget cuts, known as the “sequester,” applied this year to those agencies threaten the quality of the air we breathe and the water we drink, delay our energy independence and make it harder to be good stewards of our planet. 2013 Budget Cuts: $4.6 billion (Note 3).

For the past century, we’ve been subsidizing oil and gas companies with special rules and tax loopholes, nurturing the industry as though it were a fragile newcomer. But with gas prices averaging more than $3.60 a gallon nationwide and with the Big 5 oil companies having earned over a trillion dollars in profits in the past dozen years, it’s time to stop the coddling. Annual Tax Break: $4.6 billion
(p. 3-4).

Next time you pull up at the pump, think about where you want your money to go.