Listen to the messages coming out of Washington, D.C. and you'd think we're spending all our available money on clean and green technologies, things like algae biofuels
, cleaner cars
and advanced batteries
. Turns out, this isn't remotely true. According to a new study that reviewed fossil fuel and energy subsidies for Fiscal Years 2002-2008 was just released by the Environmental Law Institute
and discovered that the U.S. spends about two-and-a-half times as much on fossil fuels (mostly aiding foreign oil production) than it does on renewable energy. Fossil fuels were given about $72 billion during the seven years, while renewable fuels got just $29 billion. The money the U.S. spends on renewables isn't all that great, either. Of the $29 billion, $16.8 billion went to producing corn-based ethanol
. Just two tax credits – the Foreign Tax Credit and the Credit for Production of Nonconventional Fuels – account for about $30 billion. The ELI writes that, "The Foreign Tax Credit applies to the overseas production of oil through an obscure provision of the U.S. Tax Code, which allows energy companies to claim a tax credit for payments that would normally receive less-beneficial treatment under the tax code."
It seems to us that taking some government money out of subsidizing fossil fuels would have a doubling impact on getting to a greener economy: petroleum products would get more expensive (a good thing to more to cleaner cars
) and money would be freed up for cleaner technologies.
You can download a PDF of the report
, titled "Estimating U.S. Government Subsidies to Energy Sources: 2002-2008." For purposes of the study, fossil fuels included petroleum and its byproducts, natural gas
, and coal products; renewable fuels included wind, solar, biofuels
and biomass, hydropower, and geothermal energy production. Nuclear was not included in either definition.
[Source: Environmental Law Institute
Photo by Kenneth Hynek. Licensed under Creative Commons license 2.0