Ending oil subsidies can pay for Energy Security Trust

In his State of the Union speech, President Obama proposed the creation of an “Energy Security Trust” to find clean alternatives to fuel our nation’s cars and trucks. We think that’s an excellent idea. One way to support this goal is to simply eliminate the staggering $8 billion we as taxpayers have to fork-over to the over-subsidized oil and gas industry every year and use a portion of the savings to fund the trust.

Oil companies do not need or deserve help from the government. With the five largest oil companies (BP, Exxon, Shell, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips) earning an astounding $118 billion in profits last year, clearly these companies are too mature and too profitable to justify $8 billion in government support. What a waste. 

Momentum is growing to end these wasteful programs and not a minute to soon.  Just today, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) reintroduced legislation with 16 cosponsors that would repeal tax subsidies for the “Big 5” oil companies and raise $24 billion in savings over 10 years.  Last week Rep. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Ranking Democratic Member of the House Natural Resources Committee, introduced similar legislation, HR 601.

Our dependence on oil is the largest source of our carbon pollution for the U.S.. Besides fueling unpredictable and dangerous weather events, oil is at the root of $50 billion in annual heath costs and another $515 million in property damage from oil spills.  High and volatile oil prices drain our pocketbooks and drag down economic growth. More unnecessary waste.

Since the transportation sector is responsible for 70 percent of our oil dependence to reduce high costs to health and property, we must make our cars and trucks more fuel efficient and replace oil with cleaner fuels. The good news is options are available now, like electricity and advanced biofuels that do not compete with food.

Last year, the President took the single biggest step to cut our nation's oil dependence and carbon pollution when he doubled fuel efficiency standards for cars and light trucks. Ending oil subsidies and funding clean alternative is the common sense next step to reduce our dangerous oil dependence and put taxpayer dollars to better use.

About the Authors

Roland Hwang

Director, Energy & Transportation program

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