Sanders, Omar Proposal Would ‘End Absurd Corporate Welfare’ for Fossil Fuel Giants

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) attend a press conference

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) attend a press conference in Washington, D.C. on June 24, 2019.

 (Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images)

“Working families should not be forced to pad the profits of an industry that is destroying our planet,” said Sen. Bernie Sanders.


May 23, 2024 (

Demanding an end to a system in which American families have been forced to “pad the profits” of an industry that has heightened their risk of facing climate disasters, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ilhan Omar on Thursday reintroduced a bill to eliminate the estimated $17 billion in annual direct federal subsidies to fossil fuel companies.

The Vermont Independent and Minnesota Democrat urged passage of the End Polluter Welfare Act, which would save U.S. taxpayers up to $170 billion over the next decade.

The two progressive leaders emphasized that over the past three decades, the six largest private fossil fuel firms have made $2.4 trillion in profits “off the backs of people all around the world who have suffered, and are suffering, from the devastating repercussions of climate change,” with an analysis in February showing that climate disasters now cost the U.S. nearly $100 billion per year.

The oil, gas, and coal industry spent nearly $137 million lobbying Congress in 2023 to ensure they would continue receiving U.S. taxpayer-funded subsidies.

“Compared to $17 billion in subsidies, that’s a more than 12,300 percent return on investment,” said Sanders’ office in a statement.

The senator called the fossil fuel industry’s treatment of the American public and their decades of denial that their emissions are dangerously heating the planet “one of the biggest scandals of our lifetime.”

“At a time when scientists tell us we need to drastically reduce carbon pollution to prevent climate catastrophe, when fossil fuel companies are making billions of dollars in profit every year, and when working people across this country are living paycheck to paycheck, we have a fiscal and moral responsibility to put a stop to this absurd corporate welfare,” said Sanders. “No, working families should not be forced to pad the profits of an industry that is destroying our planet.”

Sanders and Omar said the End Polluter Welfare Act would further President Joe Biden’s goal of eliminating tax preferences and loopholes for the fossil fuel industry, put forward in his Fiscal Year 2025 budget. The legislation would also:

  • Prohibit taxpayer-funded fossil fuel research and development;
  • Update below-market royalty rates for oil and gas production on federal lands;
  • Recoup royalties from offshore drilling in public waters;
  • Ensure competitive bidding and leasing practices for coal development on federal lands;
  • End federal support for international oil, gas, and coal projects to help the international community move away from dirty fossil fuels to clean sources of power; and
  • Guarantee the solvency of the Black Lung Disability Fund, ensuring continued medical care for tens of thousands of working-class Americans who have worked for decades in the energy sector.

Sanders and Omar previously introduced the legislation in 2020 and 2021.

“American taxpayers have been forced to foot the bill for corporate handouts propping up the fossil fuel industry that is driving the climate crisis,” said Omar. “With the End Polluter Welfare Act, we’re putting a stop to these subsidies that accelerate environmental devastation. It’s time to transfer that revenue to invest in a clean energy future that protects our environment.”

More than 300 organizations have endorsed the bill, and 26 members of the U.S. House have been joined by six senators in co-sponsoring it.

By supporting the bill, said Omar, lawmakers are choosing “to fight for our children’s right to a healthy planet and economy powered by renewable sources, not wealthy CEOs’ profits.”

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Julia Conley is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

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