Chairwoman Maloney’s Statement on Earth Day
Washington, D.C. (Apr. 22, 2021)—Below is Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney’s statement following the Subcommittee on Environment’s hearing on the role of fossil fuel subsidies in preventing action on the climate crisis.
Chairwoman Carolyn B. Maloney
Environmental Subcommittee Hearing
“The Role of Fossil Fuel Subsidies in Preventing Action on the Climate Crisis”
April 22, 2021
I want to thank Chairman Khanna for his leadership in convening this critical hearing.
Today, on Earth Day, we must do more than simply acknowledge the evidence and science, which clearly tell us that time is running out to confront the climate crisis. We must act boldly, decisively, and immediately to implement a nationwide effort to cut emissions and create a sustainable path forward.
President Biden has made it crystal clear that this is a top priority, focusing one of his Administration’s very first Executive Orders on tackling the climate crisis at home and abroad. That order explicitly instructs federal agencies to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies from the President’s budget request and to ensure federal funding is not directly subsidizing fossil fuels.
The President’s American Jobs Plan doubles down on this priority, calling for an end to subsidies that fail to hold oil, gas, and coal companies accountable for the immeasurable harm caused to our communities and climate.
Now, Congress must act. It is squarely within our purview to eliminate antiquated tax breaks and loopholes exploited by the fossil fuel industry, which threaten the health and wellbeing of our citizens and undermine our efforts to address this monumental threat.
Conservative estimates reveal that the United States’ fossil fuel subsidies total at least $30 billion annually. But we must ground our conviction and action in the true cost of fossil fuel subsidies to American families—especially our marginalized and frontline communities—and to the overall economic health of our nation.
More robust estimates capturing the negative impacts of these subsidies, including the cost of fossil fuel pollution, show that the reality is far worse. The International Monetary Fund, for example, reports the actual annual cost of the federal government’s fossil fuel subsidies to be an astronomical $649 billion annually.
This accounts for the true social cost of fossil fuel consumption, including its links to mortality rates and the health impacts of pollution exposure, such as increased prevalence of strokes, heart disease, and lung cancer.
The time we have left to meaningfully address the climate crisis will be gone in the blink of an eye. Then, young people like Greta Thunberg, who we’re honored to have with us today, will be left to deal with the catastrophic aftermath of a mortally wounded planet.
And countless Americans, like so many others across the globe, will be forced from their homes and fearful for their health and lives, just like our panelist Jill Hunkler.
This is the inevitable outcome if we fail to hold the fossil fuel industry accountable for the true extent of its damages, and if we neglect to center environmental justice in our policies.
I am grateful to today’s experts and global activists that continue to ring the alarm in the hopes that the world will hear and act in accordance with the reality that our lives, and generations yet unborn, depend on it.