Pennsylvania fossil fuels receive US$2.9B annually in subsidies, PennFuture Energy Center report shows; consternation about incentives for clean energy unfounded when fossil fuels still subsidized to the hilt, says center director

PHILADELPHIA , December 6, 2011 (press release) – The PennFuture Energy Center for Enterprise and the Environment released a new study today detailing current subsidies for fossil fuels in Pennsylvania, which, including tax exemptions, tax credits, and grants, total $2.9 billion per year.

“Despite all the woe and consternation by some about incentives for new clean energy technology, like solar and wind power, the big dirty secret is that the highly profitable, fully mature fossil fuel industry is subsidized to the hilt,” said Christina Simeone, director of the PennFuture Energy Center. “Because of these subsidies, coal, oil, and natural gas have been chosen as the energy ‘winners’ in Pennsylvania. And the taxpayers are in many cases footing the bill.

“While pundits like to claim that all they want is for the free market to reign supreme, there is simply no free and unfettered market for energy in Pennsylvania,” continued Simeone. “Renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies, while still developing, are starting from behind and staying behind, as these subsidies continue. If there truly were a level playing field, Pennsylvania’s vibrant wind and solar industries would be even more successful than they have been.

“Use of these fuels also burdens taxpayers with additional costs such as air, land, and water pollution, which result in deteriorating public health and damage to property,” continued Simeone. “But it’s actually even worse than that. Taxpayers pay for the subsidies that promote fossil fuels that release pollution, and then the polluters are given even more subsidies to help pay for cleaning up that pollution.

“Yet, as the Pittsburgh Business Times reported today, Governor Corbett just pulled his name from a letter of support for the renewable energy production tax credit, a federal incentive for wind energy, claiming that Congress must sharpen its knives in cutting the federal budget. But he is silent on the plethora of subsidies our own state gives to the fossil fuel industry, even as education, transportation, and other vital state functions have been cut from the state budget.

“The legislature and Governor Corbett should rethink and ultimately end this gravy train for fossil fuels,” said Simeone. “These subsidies are bad for the health of our families and businesses, bad for the environment, and bad for Pennsylvania’s economy.”

The report and fact sheet are available online at PennFuture’s website.

The PennFuture Energy Center is a project of Citizens for Pennsylvania’s Future. PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization that advances policies to protect and improve the state’s environment and economy. With offices in Harrisburg, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and Wilkes-Barre, PennFuture’s activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state, and federal courts, advocating and advancing legislative action on a state and federal level, public education, and assisting citizens in public advocacy.

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