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Embargoed Until                                          For More Information:
March 23, 2000
                                         Erich Pica, FOE, 
                                         (202) 783-7400 ext. 229
10:00 a.m., EST                                           Cena Swisher, TCS 
                                         (202) 546-8500 Ext. 108
                                         Lexi Shultz, U.S. PIRG 
                                         (202) 546-9707

Polluting Energy Industries to Receive Over $26 Billion from Taxpayers

Washington, DC-- Taxpayers will pay more than $26 billion in the next five years for polluting energy programs that benefit the oil, gas, coal, and nuclear industries, according to a report released today by a coalition of taxpayer and environmental groups. 

Paying for Pollution, How Taxpayers Subsidize Dangerous and Polluting Energy Programs, a report by the Green Scissors Campaign, led by Friends of the Earth, Taxpayers for Common Sense and the U.S. Public Interest Research Group, calls for the elimination of big tax breaks for the oil and gas industry, special programs to assist nuclear power utilities, and research programs for coal consumption. 

"Our tax dollars are pumping up the pockets of polluters," said Erich Pica of Friends of the Earth. "And comparatively little is being spent on cleaner, more efficient alternatives for America's future." 

Many of the companies that benefit from the Department of Energy's fossil fuel and nuclear programs are large corporations responsible for polluting air and water, and threatening public health. In 1997 alone, the coal industry mined over 900 million tons of coal that, when burned, contributed 51 tons of mercury and 2 billion tons of carbon dioxide into the air and water. 

"Taxpayers should be outraged," said Cena Swisher of Taxpayers for Common Sense. "While these industries received billions in government handouts, prices for gas and heating oil have soared." 

Many of the subsidies to the oil, gas, coal and nuclear industries are outdated and were instituted decades ago during wartime or economic depression to increase economic development. The beneficiaries of these tax breaks and subsidies are some of the largest, most prosperous corporations in the nation, earning a net income of $29.8 billion in 1997. 

The oil, gas, coal and nuclear companies identified in this report as benefiting from a subset of federal energy programs (including the Fossil Fuel Research and Development Program, the Clean Coal Technology Program the National Ignition Facility and the Nuclear Energy Research Initiative) made $39 million in Political Action Committee (PAC) and soft money contributions to congressional campaigns from 1993 to 1999, and received an estimated $7.3 billion in subsidies. The companies thus received 186 times more than they contributed. 

The focus of the 30th Anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 this year will be the Earth Day 2000 Clean Energy Agenda, which calls on Congress, in part, to clean up dirty energy and address the problems of air pollution and global warming. The "Clean Investments" plank of the Earth Day Clean Energy Agenda calls on Congress to end coal, oil and nuclear subsidies. 

"Congress should not be using our tax dollars to subsidize pollution," said U.S. PIRG Staff Attorney Lexi Shultz. "By cutting dirty energy subsidies, Congress can help prevent air pollution, curb global warming, and protect taxpayers," she added. 

For seven years, the Green Scissors coalition of taxpayer and environmental groups, led by U.S. PIRG, Friends of the Earth and Taxpayers for Common Sense, has targeted energy programs that both waste tax dollars and contribute to health and environmental problems. Since 1994, the Green Scissors Campaign has helped to cut $17.4 billion from these wasteful and polluting projects. Polluting energy programs that were not cut have cost taxpayers at least $26 billion in the last seven years. 


Friends of the Earth is an environmental advocacy organization with affiliates in 63 countries. Friends of the Earth focuses on the "root causes" of environmental degradation and seeks to help citizens influence the matters that affect their lives and their environment 

Taxpayers for Common Sense is a non-partisan advocate for American taxpayers. TCS is dedicated to cutting wasteful spending and subsidies in order to achieve a responsible and efficient government that lives within its means 

U.S. Public Interest Research Group is a non-profit, non-partisan environmental and consumer advocacy organization. U.S. PIRG, in association with the State PIRGS in more than 35 states, conducts research and public education on public health, environmental, consumer and democracy issues. 

Friends of the Earth - 1025 Vermont Ave. NW - Washington, DC 20005 USA Tel: 202-783-7400 - Fax: 202-783-0444 - email: