How Taxpayers Subsidize World’s Most Profitable Corporations

A few years ago, ExxonMobil broke the world record for profit, making more than $40 billion in a single year. Since then, they’ve come close to breaking their own record more than once. The Guardian reports on the many ways that taxpayers in this country and around the world massively subsidize those profits.

The world’s biggest and most profitable fossil fuel companies are receiving huge and rising subsidies from US taxpayers, a practice slammed as absurd by a presidential candidate given the threat of climate change.

A Guardian investigation of three specific projects, run by Shell, ExxonMobil and Marathon Petroleum, has revealed that the subsidises were all granted by politicians who received significant campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry.

The Guardian has found that:

  • A proposed Shell petrochemical refinery in Pennsylvania is in line for $1.6bn (£1bn) in state subsidy, according to a deal struck in 2012 when the company made an annual profit of $26.8bn.
  • ExxonMobil’s upgrades to its Baton Rouge refinery in Louisiana are benefitting from $119m of state subsidy, with the support starting in 2011, when the company made a $41bn profit.
  • A jobs subsidy scheme worth $78m to Marathon Petroleum in Ohio began in 2011, when the company made $2.4bn in profit.

But that’s just three projects. Overall, the numbers are staggering:

Sanders, with representative Keith Ellison, recently proposed an End Polluter Welfare Act, which they say would cut $135bn of US subsidies for fossil fuel companies over the next decade. “Between 2010 and 2014, the oil, coal, gas, utility, and natural resource extraction industries spent $1.8bn on lobbying, much of it in defence of these giveaways,” according to Sanders and Ellison.

In April, the president of the World Bank called for the subsidies to be scrapped immediately as poorer nations were feeling “the boot of climate change on their neck”. Globally in 2013, the most recent figures available,the coal, oil and gas industries benefited from subsidies of $550bn, four times those given to renewable energy.

You want welfare? There it is. Corporate welfare. A massive transfer of wealth from taxpayers to the world’s richest corporations who are already making higher profits than any companies in history. Add to that the massive cost of dealing with the effects of burning those fossil fuels in terms of healthcare, lost worktime and productivity, pollution abatement and cleanup and much more. But yeah, by all means, let’s focus on demonizing poor people to distract attention from the real welfare queens.

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  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    Add to that the massive cost of dealing with the effects of burning those fossil fuels in terms of healthcare, lost worktime and productivity, pollution abatement and cleanup and much more.

    Exactly. Even beyond the direct benefits, look at all the ancillary jobs they create!

  • D. C. Sessions

    You’re completely ignoring the other subsidies, such as waiving a number maritime charges for tankers and, of course, our military expenditures to keep the oil from the Middle East flowing.

  • mkoormtbaalt

    Is this what Republicans mean when they say that they will run the government like a business?

  • CJO, egregious by any standard

    A massive transfer of wealth from taxpayers to the world’s richest corporations

    This is now the primary purpose of the governments of the nation-states of the developed world. They’re doin’ a heckuva job!

  • http://www.thelosersleague.com theschwa

    Well, at least we know none of the CEOs and VPs are using drugs! They would never risk failing a welfare drug test when they collect those subsidies.

  • blf

    As I mentioned at poopyhead’s when linking to same article, The Grauniad happened to publish a second, subject-related, article the same day, …FBI violated its own rules while spying on Keystone XL opponents:

    ● Houston investigation amounted to ‘substantial non-compliance’ of rules

    ● Internal memo labels pipeline opponents as ‘environmental extremists’

    ● FBI failed to get approval before it opened files on protesters in Texas

    […]

    Internal agency documents show for the first time how FBI agents have been closely monitoring anti-Keystone activists, in violation of guidelines designed to prevent the agency from becoming unduly involved in sensitive political issues.

    […]

    The documents reveal that one FBI investigation, run from its Houston field office, amounted to “substantial non-compliance” of Department of Justice rules that govern how the agency should handle sensitive matters.

    One FBI memo, which set out the rationale for investigating campaigners in the Houston area, touted the economic advantages of the pipeline while labelling its opponents “environmental extremists”.

    [… T]he partially redacted documents reveal the investigation into anti-Keystone activists occurred without prior approval of the top lawyer and senior agent in the Houston field office, a stipulation laid down in rules provided by the attorney general.

    Confronted by evidence contained in the cache of documents, the agency admitted that “FBI approval levels required by internal policy were not initially obtained” […]

    The FBI files appear to suggest the Houston branch of the investigation was opened in early 2013, several months after a high-level strategy meeting between the agency and TransCanada, the company building the pipeline.

    […]

  • Goomba

    Bet Fox News won’t complain about these entitlement programs.

  • caseloweraz

    A Guardian investigation of three specific projects, run by Shell, ExxonMobil and Marathon Petroleum, has revealed that the subsidises were all granted by politicians who received significant campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry.

    I’m shocked — shocked! — to hear that politicians who get payoffs from Big Oil vote for subsidies to Big Oil. My head is spinning. I’ll be at Rick’s Cafe having a drink to clear it.

    But seriously, thanks for pointing out this story. I’ve heard various estimates for the size of this subsidy. The one that seems most credible puts it at about $11 billion a year. One went as high as $7.3 trillion, but that was cumulative and included things like the operation of the Seventh Fleet defending Saudi Arabia. I wouldn’t go that far. Military operations are not done just to support Big Oil.