For Immediate Release

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Omar, Sanders, Merkley, Markey, Barragán Introduce Bill to End Corporate Handouts to the Fossil Fuel Industry

WASHINGTON - Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) together with Sen. Merkley (D-Ore.), Sen. Markey (D- Mass.) and Rep. Barragan (D-Calif.) introduced legislation to close tax loopholes and eliminate other federal subsidies for the oil, gas, and coal industries.

Right now, American taxpayers are on the hook for about $15 billion in direct federal subsidies to the fossil fuel industry. In 2019 alone, the oil, gas, and coal companies that receive these handouts spent $190 million lobbying Congress – for an over 11,000 percent return on investment. At a time when climate change is already causing devastating harm around the world, it makes no sense for Congress to continue giving away taxpayer money to the hugely profitable and highly polluting fossil fuel industry.

“It’s past time we end the billions of taxpayer subsidies to fossil-fuel companies,” said Rep. Omar.“Our focus right now needs to be on getting the American people through this difficult, unprecedented time, not providing giveaways to polluters. Taxpayers provide $15 billion in direct federal subsidies to the fossil fuel industry every year. That ends with this bill. I’m proud to be leading the fight for a greener future with my colleagues.”

“At a time when we are dealing with the coronavirus pandemic and an economic decline, it is absurd to provide billions of taxpayer subsidies that pad fossil-fuel companies’ already-enormous profits,” said Senator Sanders. “Big Oil made more than $2 trillion in profits over the last two decades. We need more safe, healthy, good paying jobs—not more corporate polluter giveaways.”

The End Polluter Welfare Act would end these absurd corporate giveaways by abolishing dozens of tax loopholes, subsidies, and other special interest giveaways littered throughout the federal tax code, ending energy resource giveaways to polluters on lands and waters owned by the American people, and prohibiting taxpayer-funded fossil fuel research and development - saving taxpayers up to $150 billion over the next ten years. The bill would also stop the Trump administration from taking coronavirus relief funding away from struggling businesses to bail out fossil fuel corporations.

In addition to ending domestic polluter welfare, this bill would end federal support for international oil, gas, and coal projects as a step toward fulfilling our responsibility to help the international community move away from dirty fossil fuels to clean sources of power. It would also guarantee the continued solvency of the Black Lung Disability Fund to ensure continued medical care for tens of thousands of working-class Americans who worked hard for decades to provide energy for the nation.

"It is ridiculous that the federal government continues to hand out massive giveaways to antiquated fossil fuel industries that are not only financially risky, but are also destroying our planet," said Senator Merkley. "And it's even worse when working families and small businesses are barely hanging on. Enough. It’s time to put the health of the American people and our economy above the wish lists of powerful special interests, close these loopholes, and put an end to taxpayer subsidies for fossil fuels.”

“We should be providing support for workers and those affected by Trump’s criminally-negligent response to the pandemic—not bailing out the fossil fuel industry and propping up its profit margins,” said Senator Markey. “Trump is only trying to add to these decades-long payouts for polluters, when we should be directing our resources to keeping people safe.”

“In the midst of a global pandemic, a climate crisis and a nationwide call for racial justice, The Trump Administration is prioritizing corporate polluters over people,” said Rep. Barragán.“Policies like the End Polluter Welfare Act, and the ReWIND Act within it, are important steps to refocus the work of our government back to the people in their time of need.”

Original cosponsors in the House include Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Mark Takano, Jesús “Chuy” Garcia, Grace Napolitano, Joseph Kennedy, Early Blumenauer, Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Jimmy Gomez.

The End Polluter Welfare Act is also endorsed by Alaska Wilderness League Action Alaska's Big Village Network, Build A Movement 2020, Center for Biological DiversityClimate Hawks Vote, Data for Progress, Democratic National Committee Environment and Climate Crisis Council, Earth Action, Inc., Earthworks, ecoAmerica, Food & Water Action, Friends of the Earth, Global Witness, Greenpeace USA, International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute, National Children's Campaign, Ocean Conservation Research, Oil Change U.S., Oxfam America, Progressive Democrats of America, Sierra Club, Stand.earth, Sunrise Movement, SustainUS, Texas Campaign for the Environment, and Turtle Island Restoration Network.

“Big Oil is already looking to exploit the coronavirus for even deeper giveaways from taxpayers. Today more than ever we need to protect people and the planet, not polluters and their profits. We thank Representative Omar and Senator Sanders for leading this important effort,” said Lukas Ross, Program Manager at Friends of the Earth.

“Alaska has suffered from an economy primarily based on non-renewable mineral resource extraction, and the cancellation of contractually obligated royalties. It's a disaster,” said Nikos Pasos, Alaska's Big Village Network.

“Build A Movement 2020 is a cross-partisan alliance of Americans who call for the passage of the End Polluter Welfare Act as soon as possible. We must would abolish fossil fuel subsidies by ending tax breaks and special financing so that fossil fuel corporations pay their fair share and stop ripping off the American public,” said Dr. Paul Zeitz, Executive Director, Build A Movement 2020.

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“It's long past time to stop subsidizing the planet- and people-harming practices of the fossil fuel industry. Our energy and resources must be put toward supporting the American people through the pandemic, and building the future we want to live in, not propping up the old economy that is so destructive and unsustainable,” said Michelle Deatrick, Chair, DNC Climate Council.

“The End Polluter Welfare Act is a vital part of the move off fossil fuels. It’s fundamentally absurd that we continue to subsidize the fossil fuel industry at the exact moment we need to ramp down the extraction and burning of coal, oil, and gas,” said Mitch Jones, Policy Director at Food & Water Action. “We look forward to working with Representatives Omar and Barragan as wells as Senators Sanders, Merkley, and Markey to pass this legislation and cut off the flow of public dollars to corporate polluters,” said Mitch Jones, Food & Water Action.

“The fossil fuels industry must change to avoid the worst effects of global warming, which is already upon us.  This legislation is a giant step towards reining in the pollution from oil and gas development, and we wholeheartedly endorse it,” said Mark J. Palmer, International Marine Mammal Project of Earth Island Institute.

 “Subsidizing fossil fuel development right now is exactly the opposite direction we need to be heading. I became abundantly clear last March when oil future went seriously negative that the industry is collapsing, and is only propped up by a ponzi operation that should not involve our tax dollars,” said Michael Stocker, Ocean Conservation Research.

 "The End Polluter Welfare Act is critically needed legislation at a pivotal moment. We must stop propping up oil, gas, and coal with public money and invest in the people and communities most impacted by systemic oppression, COVID-19, and the climate crisis. We commend Reps. Omar and Barragán and Sens. Sanders, Markey, and Merkley for leading this bill, and we look forward to working with Congress to phase out harmful fossil fuel subsidies, prevent bailouts of big polluters, and invest in a sustainable future for workers and communities." said Collin Rees, Senior Campaigner at Oil Change International.

"During this pandemic, fossil fuel companies have already succeeded in rolling back environmental regulations, bending lending rules for loan programs, and taking advantage of misplaced tax breaks, all while laying off thousands of workers. Fossil fuel companies have been bailed out and propped up long enough at the expense of American taxpayers, communities and workers.  It is time for Congress to roll it back.  We thank Sens. Sanders, Merkley, Markey and Reps. Omar Barragán, and their co-sponsors in Congress for their leadership in eliminating these harmful giveaways to fossil fuel companies, and we endorse the End Polluter Welfare Act,” said Daniel Mulé, Senior Policy Advisor for Tax and Extractive Industries at Oxfam America.

"Progressive Democrats of America (PDA) wholeheartedly supports the End Polluter Welfare Act. We applaud Representative Omar, Representative Barragan, Senator Sanders and Senator Markey for standing up against Fossil Fuel corporations, demanding an end to tens-of-billions of dollars in subsidies to oil, gas, and coal companies, and protecting the interests of the American people and the planet,” said Alan Minsky, Progressive Democrats of America.

"For too long, fossil fuel companies have subjected our communities to unacceptable pollution, and our tax dollars have paid them to do it. We applaud Senator Sanders and Representative Omar's proposed legislation, which works to put an end to taxpayer-funded handouts for corporate polluters," said Kelly Martin, Director of the Sierra Club's Beyond Dirty Fuels campaign.

“The fossil fuel industry should be paying up for fueling the climate crisis and causing horrific human rights abuses globally. Instead they are profiting from the COVID-19 crisis and being bailed out by the federal government. The End Polluters Welfare Act prioritizes people over polluters. Thank you Rep. Omar for your leadership on climate justice,” said Swetha Saseedhar, SustainUS.

“We need to stop subsidizing polluters who are worsening our health and shift towards a clean economy with well-paid and safe jobs. The lives and health of too many Texans and other Americans are at risk now,” said Robin Schneider, Texas Campaign for the Environment.

Read the bill summary here.

Read a section-by-section summary here.

Read the legislative text here.

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Rep. Ilhan Omar represents Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House of Representatives, which includes Minneapolis and surrounding suburbs.

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