WASHINGTON -- Progressive lawmakers Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) teamed up on Thursday to introduce legislation designed to stop subsidies to the oil, coal and natural gas industries, preserving an estimated $110 billion over the next ten years.
The measure, End Polluter Welfare Act, would do away with tax breaks, financial assistance, royalty relief, direct federal research and development and many loopholes that benefit the fossil fuel industry -- coal, oil, and natural gas -- according to the bill's authors. It has the backing of numerous groups, including Friends of the Earth, Taxpayers for Common Sense and 350.org, which has vowed to campaign on Capitol Hill in support of the legislation.
"If we confine this effort to Capitol Hill, the fossil fuel industry will just drown us in dollars -- they could spend $100 billion fighting this thing and still come out on top," said 350.org Executive Director May Boeve in a Thursday statement. "So we're going to take this fight to districts around the country and find other currencies to work in: our creativity, energy and grassroots organizing power."
The Yale Project on Climate Change has reported that as of November 2011, 70 percent of Americans opposed federal subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, including majorities of both Republicans and Independents.
"Our legislation is the most comprehensive ever introduced," said Sanders at a press conference on Capitol Hill. "It ends all tax breaks, special financing arrangements and federal research and development funding. We ensure that never again can a company like BP take a tax deduction for money spent cleaning up its own mess in the Gulf of Mexico," he added, "and we close the loophole that lets tar sands oil pipeline operators avoid paying the oil spill clean-up tax."
350.org, the green advocacy group founded by author and environmentalist Bill McKibben, has launched a signature drive for voters who wish to pressure congressional representatives to support the bill.