Tax breaks for polluters on the increase, say environmentalists
Subsidies for polluting industries are increasing rapidly, a new analysis by Friends of the Earth (FoE) claims.
Using information from the Congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, FoE has calculated that tax breaks for polluting industries will grow to $20.1 billion over the next five years.
FoE’s analysis shows that cost estimates for oil and gas subsidies have grown from $10.4 billion to more than $13 billion. Estimated tax subsidies for the mining industry will grow from $1.9 billion to $2.0 billion over the next five years.
Asked how the US Government justifies these tax breaks, an FoE spokesman told edie: “The Government doesn’t need to justify them. Many of the tax breaks were put in place decades ago, so current decision makers don’t need to say why they are useful. They spend more time telling voters that eliminating them is the same as raising taxes, which doesn’t encourage the Government to carry out a review. The other justification is that these industries need help. I think that’s an incredible waste and misapplication of limited resources. There are industries that aim at solving environmental problems that justify more support than well-established oil, gas and mining companies.”
According to the Center for Responsive Politics’ review of personal finances, many of the beneficiaries of the tax breaks are some of the largest campaign donors to Members of Congress, particularly to those who sit on the tax committees.
Democratic Presidential candidate Bill Bradley has already called for the elimination of a variety of tax breaks and special subsidies for polluting industries, including chemical companies (see related story). Bradley specifically targeted tax breaks and subsidies for oil and gas, mining, and agribusiness industries.
Senator John McCain, a Republican candidate for President, has also proposed eliminating special-interest loopholes in the tax code, targeting specific provisions for energy, oil, gas, and mining industries.
“We are pleased that some Presidential candidates are tackling special-interest give-aways,” said Gawain Kripke, FoE’s economics campaigns director. “But tax breaks for pollution are growing more expensive and are damaging to the environment.”