Since its inception fifteen years ago, the Green Scissors Campaign has fought to make environmental and fiscal responsibility a priority in Washington. By eliminating subsidies and programs that both harm the environment and waste taxpayer dollars, the federal government can protect our natural resources while reducing the growth of government spending and making a significant dent in the national debt. Green Scissors 2010 identifies more than $200 billion in wasteful government subsidies that are damaging to the environment and harmful to consumers.
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The federal government supports the use of biofuels—transportation fuel produced usually from renewable plant matter, such as corn—in the pursuit of national energy, environmental, and agricultural policy goals. Tax credits encourage the production and sale of biofuels in the United States, while federal mandates specify minimum amounts and types of biofuel usage each year through 2022. Tax credits effectively lower the private costs of producing biofuels relative to the costs of producing their substitutes, gasoline and diesel fuel.
The two largest offshore drilling companies in the world, Transocation and Noble Corporation, are in reality headquartered in the Houston area but moved their legal domiciles first to the Cayman Islands and then to Switzerland to avoid U.S. tax. Calculations shown below indicate that those maneuvers have reduced their tax bills by more than $2 billion.
Transocean owned and operated the floating, dynamically positioned rig that exploded on April 20, leading to a loss of 11 lives and spilling hundreds of thousands of gallons of crude oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
Use of biofuels does not reduce emissions from energy combustion but may offset emissions by increasing plant growth or by reducing plant residue or other non-energy emissions. To do so, biofuel production must generate and use ‘additional carbon’, which means carbon that plants would not otherwise absorb or that would be emitted to the atmosphere anyway. When biofuels cause no direct land use change, they use crops that would grow regardless of biofuels so they do not directly absorb additional carbon.
In this report, we examine the net impact of the coal industry on the West Virginia state budget by compiling data on and estimating both the tax revenues and the expenditures attributable to the industry for Fiscal Year 2009: July 1, 2008 through June 30, 2009. In calculating these estimates, there is an inherent degree of uncertainty associated with the results. We do not claim that our accounting of revenues and expenditures is precise; in fact, we round our estimates so as not to provide a false impression of precision.
Although coal has played an important historical role, the Tennessee coal industry now provides few jobs to state residents, and does not provide significant revenues to the state budget. In fact, as estimated in this report, the industry itself—together with its direct and indirect employees—actually cost Tennessee state taxpayers more than they provide. Our estimates provide an initial accounting of not only the industry’s benefits, but also its costs.
This memo evaluates three tax subsidies to nuclear power contained in the American Power Act (APA): 5-year accelerated depreciation for reactors; a 10% investment tax credit; and an expansion of a production tax credit for nuclear. The draft Act was floated by Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) in May 2010. Subsidy costs were evaluated using prototype AP1000 and Areva EPR reactor characteristics, and a range of values for cost of capital.
Through its focus on incentives for the coal industry, this document provides one of the best summaries we've seen on subsidies to coal gasification, Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) technology, and associated carbon capture and storage (CCS) methods. Of particular merit are the state-by-state summaries of coal-supportive programs and policies. As the document was published four years ago, some program may have changed; however, the normal duration of subsidy policies suggests the vast majority remain in effect.
Subsidies for biofuels in the United States have reached levels unimagined when support for an "infant industry" began in the late 1970s. Today, the infant has grown into a strapping behemoth with a powerful sense of entitlement and an insatiable appetite for ethanol's primary feedstock: corn. In 2009, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported a record corn harvest of 13.2 billion bushels, 9 percent larger than the harvest of 2008.
One way to correct market failures is tax shifting -- raising taxes on activities that harm the environment so that their prices begin to reflect their true cost and offsetting this with a reduction in income taxes. A complementary way to achieve this goal is subsidy shifting. Each year the world's taxpayers provide at least $700 billion in subsidies for environmentally destructive activities, such as fossil fuel burning, overpumping aquifers, clearcutting forests, and overfishing.