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Redford writes: "Who came up with the crazy idea that the fossil fuel industry deserves our hard-earned money, no less in economic times of such harsh human consequence?"

Actor, filmmaker and environmental advocate Robert Redford, 06/15/09. (photo: Contour/Getty Images)
Actor, filmmaker and environmental advocate Robert Redford, 06/15/09. (photo: Contour/Getty Images)

Stop Public Handouts to Oil, Gas and Coal

Robert Redford, Reader Supported News

18 June 12


very year, around the world, almost one trillion dollars of subsidies is handed out to help the fossil fuel industry. Who came up with the crazy idea that the fossil fuel industry deserves our hard-earned money, no less in economic times of such harsh human consequence? We fire teachers, police and firemen in drastic budget cuts and yet, the fossil fuel industry can laugh all the way to the bank on our dime? Something doesn't add up here.

We should not be subsidizing the destruction of our planet. Fossil fuels are literally cooking our planet, polluting our air and draining our wallets. Why should we continue to reward companies to do that?

As they go after more expensive and harder to access fossil fuels, it is like drilling a hole in our pocketbooks. We pay more at the pump. We pay in taxpayer subsidies to a highly profitable industry. And we pay in the rising costs of climate change in the form of floods, storms and droughts that hurt our homes and communities.

Our world leaders are gathering in Rio over the coming days for a historic meeting twenty years after the first Earth Summit. We are looking to our governments to show leadership and commit to real timetables and actions for fighting climate change, including ending fossil fuel subsidies. Sure, they've made commitments to stop these unnecessary payouts. But commitments need to become action to have any meaning. And despite strong words, we are not yet seeing action on the ground.

In the United States, President Obama has repeatedly proposed cutting $4 billion in annual federal subsidies to the oil and gas industry and several bills to cut fossil fuel subsidies are stalled in Congress.

Think about what else we could do with one trillion dollars. We could create clean energy jobs, limit greenhouse gas emissions that create climate change and help make a healthier and more secure life for our children. Instead, we give 12 times as much in subsidies to the fossil fuel industry as we give to clean energy industries like wind and solar.

If you have a dollar to invest - investing that dollar in clean energy creates three times the jobs of the same dollar invested in the fossil fuel industry. In fact, studies show that fossil fuel subsidies slow economic growth. Clean energy is a great example of building a green economy. Ending fossil fuel subsidies is good for our pocketbooks, economic growth and for our health and environment.

In poll after poll after poll, the public says they want more renewable energy and less fossil fuels.

So why aren't our world leaders doing more to deliver what the public wants instead of what oil, gas and coal companies want? We need to hold our leaders accountable for the choices they make on our behalf.

People around the world are waking up to the absurdity of subsidizing Big Oil and Coal. Over a million people have already signed onto a petition to end fossil fuel subsidies. And on June 18, people from all over the world will be sending world leaders message on Twitter and Facebook to #endfossilfuelsubsidies.

Just last March, President Obama said,

Instead of taxpayer giveaways to an industry that's never been more profitable, we should be using that money to double-down on investments in clean energy technologies that have never been more promising.

These proposals have so far failed in the face of strong industry opposition and the fossil fuel industry is equally obstructive elsewhere in the world.

In a time of economic hardship, progressing climate change and a growing demand for reliable and clean sources of energy, using taxpayer money to help oil, gas and mining companies represent a reckless and irrational use of taxpayer money and government investment. We can do better. We need the fossil fuel industry to stop asking us to pay the price for their greed. We need our world leaders to turn their words into actions. And we can start by reminding them to #endfossilfuelsubsidies.

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