Big Oil Anniversary: 102 Years of Oil Spills and Pollution

Posted in National

This article is the first in a series highlighting the success and promise of renewable fuel in the United States: clean, secure, American energy. Since the passage of the Renewable Fuel Standard in 2005, the renewable fuel sector has grown dramatically, supporting more than 852,000 jobs today.

This week, America celebrates 102 years of oil spills, pollution, and environmental havoc -- all a result of tax breaks and subsidies for Big Oil that have persisted for over a century.

While oil continues to be a bad investment for our economy, our environment, and our wallets, there is a better, cleaner choice: homegrown American ethanol.

Where it all began…

Starting in 1913, oil companies were allowed to treat the oil in the ground as capital equipment, a type of deduction that allows them to write off a percentage of each barrel extracted from the Earth. That subsidy, included in the Revenue Act of 1913, was the first time that a tax break for Big Oil had been written into the tax code. It still stands today.

Keeping up with the times.

While that first tax break allowed oil companies to write off 5 percent of the costs from oil and gas wells, oil companies can now deduct three times that amount -- 15 percent.

Higher gas prices for you? Bigger tax breaks for Big Oil.

This percentage depletion subsidy increases when oil prices increase. So when your gas prices go up, Big Oil enjoys bigger profits... and gets even larger tax breaks from the federal government.

What does it cost?

A report by the Center for American Progress estimates that eliminating this subsidy would save $11.2 billion over ten years. And this isn’t the only tax break that Big Oil receives. All told, tax breaks for Big Oil cost American taxpayers more than $75 billion each decade.

With climate change as a growing threat, we need our leaders to invest in clean, secure sources of American energy -- including renewable fuel.

Source: ThinkProgress

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