Obama calls on Congress to end fossil-fuel subsides

By RTCC Staff

President Obama called for the US Congress to vote to end subsidies to fossil guel companies (© White House/Pete Souza)

President Obama has called on the US Congress to vote to an end to fossil fuel subsidies.

Speaking at Nashua Community College in New Hampshire President Obama called on Americans to contact their representatives and call on them to vote out subsidies under the 2013 budget.

“Right now, $4 billion of your tax dollars – $4 billion – subsidise the oil industry every year,” he said.

“These companies are making record profits right now – tens of billion of dollars a year. Every time you go to the gas tank or fill up your gas tank, they’re making money. Every time. Now does anyone really think that Congress should give them another $4 billion this year?”

“Of course not. It’s outrageous. It’s inexcusable. And I am asking Congress – eliminate this oil giveaway right away…Let’s put every single member of Congress on record: You can stand with the oil companies, or you can stand up for the American people.”

“You can keep subsidising a fossil fuel that’s been getting taxpayer dollars for a century, or you can place your bets on a clean-energy future.”

One average the US are said to offer around $4 to $5 billion per year on fossil fuel subsides, but one analysis last year from the Environmental Law Institute found that the government offered $72 billion in incentives for oil, gas and coal producers between 2002 and 2008 – nearing $10 billion per year.

In 2010, $409 billion was spent globally on fossil-fuel subsides, artificially lowering the price of coal gas and oil.

The International Energy Agency (IEA) have warned that, while frequently touted as poverty-assistance measures, in reality subsides significantly underpriced energy in many parts of the world, leading to wasteful consumption, price volatility and fuel smuggling.

They also believe subsides undermine investment in renewables and their removal would see economic, energy security and environmental benefits.

IEA Chief Economist Fatih Birol, a well-known advocate for the end to fossil fuel subsidies, believes ending such payments could provide more than half the savings needed to prevent dangerous climate change.

Obama echoed the sentiments of European Commissioner Connie Hedegaard.

Earlier this week she called on the phasing out of global subsidies ahead of the Rio+20 conferences to be held in June.

Ahead of Obama’s election campaign, where energy independance and clean energy will be key issues he also used the speech to push for further investment driving clean-technology industries.

While acknowledging the road towards a more diverse energy mix would be tough, Obama called the move necessary saying “our [America’s] future depends on it.”

“It’s not going to be smooth easy rise. Some of the clean-energy technologies that are discovered, they won’t pan out. Some companies will fail. There’s going to be experiments and research that take time,” he said.

“I’m not going to cede the wind or the solar or the battery industry to China or Germany because some politicians in Washington refused to make the same commitment here in the United States of America,” he added.

President Obama’s opponents have criticised this stance, saying the call to end fossil fuel subsidies would do nothing to help lower the price of gasoline for average American.

The price of gasoline rose to $3.74 a gallon this week, up from the $3.44 per gallon average recorded last month.

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