Let's Transform the Energy Sector

**Editor's note: views expressed here are those of the author, and not of ACC as an organization.

 

For decades, American fossil fuel companies have benefited from a tax code that caters to their needs. Unfortunately, the United States Government supplies $4.9 billion in annual subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. It’s time for this to change. The presence of fossil fuel subsidies serves as an indictment on the ineffectiveness of American energy policy and by eliminating them, an array of economic and environmental benefits will emerge.

Subsidizing fossil fuel production is entirely illogical in and of itself. Instead of enabling distorted competition, the energy sector should promote a level playing field. Removing these ineffective subsidies allows each energy form to hold full accountability for the environmental costs it imposes upon society. Due to the horrific impacts caused by fossil fuels, in this market-friendly situation, clean, alternative energy forms would thrive and prevail. Wind, solar, and other renewable energy sources would become increasingly prominent, and America would move towards a more sustainable future. By slashing fossil fuel funding, American taxpayers would no longer support an industry that poses substantial environmental and public health risks. Instead, taxpayer dollars can contribute to productive ecological measures, such as maintaining our stunning national parks.

If the United States chose to eliminate non-renewable energy subsidies, the domestic and international impacts would be widespread. Domestically, this policy change increases the attractiveness of alternative energy forms, which allows the United States to be more self-sufficient in energy production. Domestic energy is in essence a national security instrument. America’s substantial reliance on Middle Eastern oil is not in any way desirable, while contrarily, wind and solar power is infinitely available domestically and does not require interaction with politically unstable regions. A powerful, internal clean energy sector will create jobs and allow the United States to act as the lead innovator in this area as we move toward a greener planet. On a global scale, by being the first major country to remove fossil fuel subsidies, the United States would have the ability to pressure other nations into adopting the same policy. The US’s international influence is undeniable, and if it successfully convinces other major fossil fuel using countries, such as China and India, to eliminate subsidies, the environmental impacts would be extensive. In fact, the International Energy Agency estimates that global removing of these subsidies could reduce carbon dioxide emissions by ten percent by 2050!

Former President and conservative icon Ronald Reagan pointed out that “preservation of our environment is not a partisan challenge; it’s common sense.” He is absolutely right, and this statement applies to fossil fuel subsidies as well. These subsidies effectively contaminate our environment and restrict growth in the burgeoning clean energy industry. All in all, let’s work together to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies and allow the markets to determine the future of our energy sector.

Ronnie Thompson