How we subsidize fossil fuels


This is a little old, but I ran across it on Jon Taplin's blog recently and I think it does a good job of making an important point—fossil fuel, as an industry, isn't self supporting. No matter where we get our energy from, we're propping up production with tax dollars.

Couple things to keep in mind with this graph:

Not all fossil fuel subsidies are evil. (Frankly, I think we can drop the fossil fuels part and say "not all subsidies are evil", but I digress.) The Environmental Law Institute—who compiled the research and created this graphic—points out a great example: The Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. That's calculated under subsidies to fossil fuels. It's by no means a big part of fossil fuel subsidies, but it's there.

This accounting doesn't include all spending. For instance, there are programs that, arguably, spend money as a direct result of the fossil fuel industry, but that aren't technically subsidies. The Oil Spill Liability Trust Fund, say, or, more controversially, money spent on military campaigns at least partially influenced by a desire to stabilize/defend/friendly-fy oil-producing countries.

Read the full paper this graph is based on. See the full graph with footnotes.