How Taxpayers Subsidize World’s Most Profitable Corporations

How Taxpayers Subsidize World’s Most Profitable Corporations May 14, 2015

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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