Letter: Subsidies and the fossil fuel industry

Published: 4/1/2019 12:01:11 AM

Critics of renewable energies contend they’re expensive and require government subsidies to be competitive. While it’s true that renewable energies such as wind and solar do receive subsidies from the government in the form of tax credits and other incentives, critics neglect to mention subsidies dished out to the fossil fuel industry, including coal, oil and gas companies.

Reports suggest federal and state governments provide the U.S. fossil fuel industry with more than $20 billion in annual subsidies, far more than the $6.7 billion in subsidies that support the renewable energy industry. Many of the subsidies backing the fossil fuel industry have been around for more than a century and are effectively tax loopholes. Why are individual companies such as ExxonMobil and Chevron, among the most valuable in the world, receiving billions of taxpayer dollars?

As technology has improved and production capabilities are scaled, prices for solar and wind have dropped by 85 percent and 50 percent, respectively, since 2009. Wind and solar are already cheaper than coal, and, if they’re not there yet, in the very near future will be cheaper than gas.

While subsidies for wind are set to phase out in 2020 and those for solar by 2022, there’s no end in sight for annual subsidies flowing to the fossil fuel industry. So next time you hear about how costly renewable energy subsidies are, don’t forget almost three times as much goes to the fossil fuel industry.  

CHRISTOPHER KNIGHT

Concord




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