Washington, D.C. (Apr. 22, 2021)—Today, Rep. Ro Khanna, Chairman of the Subcommittee on the Environment, held the Subcommittee’s first hearing of the Congress on the role of fossil fuel subsidies in preventing action on the climate crisis.
At the start of the hearing, Chairman Khanna outlined five priorities the Biden Administration should enact to end fossil fuel subsidies:
- Repealing the Deduction for Intangible Drilling Costs
- Repealing the Last-In, First-Out (LIFO) Accounting for Fossil Fuel Companies
- Repealing the Corporate Tax Exemption for Fossil Fuel Master Limited Partnerships (MLPs)
- Repealing the Excess of Percentage Over Cost Depletion
- Repealing Dual Capacity Taxpayer Deduction
The Subcommittee heard testimony from Greta Thunberg, Climate Activist; Tara Houska, Founder of Giniw Collective; Dr. Joseph Aldy, Professor at Harvard University; Peter Erickson, Climate Policy Program Director at the Stockholm Environmental Institute; and Jill Antares Hunkler, Seventh Generation Ohio Valley Resident.
Subcommittee Members and witnesses agreed that the United States and the rest of the international community must fulfil its commitments to repeal fossil fuel subsidies.
- Under questioning from Chairman Khanna, Ms. Thunberg agreed that it’d be “gut punch” to young people and the environmental movement around the world if Congress passed an infrastructure bill that did not include eliminating fossil fuel subsidies.
Subcommittee Members and witnesses discussed how fossil fuel subsidies are a bad deal for taxpayers economically, a danger to the environment, and a public health risk.
- Under questioning from Rep. Gomez, Dr. Aldy testified, “The fuels look cheap because we are not accounting for the fact that we are posing significant public health costs and significant costs of changing the climate, which means significant costs to our infrastructure in the future, the risk of dying prematurely in the future, the risk of disastrous storms, of forest fires out west. Those are the costs. The benefits are going to the shareholders of these companies.”
- In response to questioning from Vice Chair Tlaib, Ms. Hunkler, who was forced to become a “fracking refugee” described the health impacts of fracking on her family, “First, we noticed the odors, nausea, headaches, then body aches and pains, mental confusion, you couldn’t sleep, rashes, numbness.”
- In closing, Mr. Erikson quoted his research in stating, “over 96% of the value of the subsidies in the tax code goes directly to profits over and above the minimum investment hurdle rates that would be required to actually make those new investments happen.”
Witnesses explained how vulnerable communities are disproportionately affected by the fossil fuel industry and its cumulative impacts.
- When asked by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez whether it is a coincidence that fossil fuel pipelines are disproportionately on native land and treaty land, Ms. Houska testified, “The reality is we are the places that are out of sight out of mind… from beginning to end, we are the people that are disparately experiencing the impacts of not just the climate crisis, but the actual building of infrastructure. We’re the sacrifice zones.”
- Under questioning by Rep. Bush, Ms. Houska testified, “every single stopping point whether it’s the point of extraction, the transportation of the fuel or whatever it happens to be, and the end point when it is refined or it is shipped out somewhere – it is always black and brown folks and poor folks dealing with these impacts disparately more than anyone else.”