Our Tax System Rewards Polluters

Charlie Simmons Retired Tech Executive

Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist who sparked student protests across the globe, had this to tell the UN General Assembly in New York: “People are suffering. People are dying. Entire ecosystems are collapsing. We are in the beginning of a mass extinction. And all you can talk about is money and fairytales of eternal economic growth.”

In part, it’s because there are a mind-boggling number of tax incentives offered to fossil fuel companies. There are deductions for domestic fossil fuel production, tax credits for vague “intangible drilling costs,” and deferred federal tax payments.

In 2016, the Wall Street Journal estimated that these provisions amounted to $4.76 billion per year given out to fossil fuel companies from the federal government.

That was before GOP corporate tax cuts worsened the problem in 2017 by slashing the industry’s already low tax rate and offering a new deduction for capital expenditures — while simultaneously opening up half a million acres of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to new drilling.

Companies like Chevron will tell you they’re committed to preventing climate change, pointing to their $100 million pledge to the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative, an industry-led organization allegedly dedicated to fighting climate change.

This is a paltry amount compared to the $4.5 billion in profit they made in 2018 — or even to the $955 million they avoided in taxes thanks to the Republican tax cuts. Chevron received a $181 million rebate on Tax Day.

Essentially, American taxpayers lost $955 million, funded a $100 million PR stunt, and paid $81 million directly to the corporation to fund more drilling and exploration our planet literally cannot afford. Chevron’s not unique, either — Occidental did the same thing.

While the current administration lets fossil fuel companies raid America’s natural resources and its coffers, the rest of us can’t sit back and wait for change. Greta certainly isn’t, and she’s only 16.

Tax incentives should encourage better behavior from corporations, not pay polluters to profit from environmental degradation.

Forcing our elected officials and 2020 candidates to introduce incentives for fixing climate change — and remove those that accelerate it — should be on the top of the agenda. our economy and the health of our environment ultimately go hand-in-hand, and it’s long past time our tax system reflected that.

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Distributed by OtherWords.

Posted In: Allied Approaches

Union Matters

Steel for Wind Power

From the USW

From tumbledown bridges to decrepit roads and failing water systems, crumbling infrastructure undermines America’s safety and prosperity. In coming weeks, Union Matters will delve into this neglect and the urgent need for a rebuilding campaign that creates jobs, fuels economic growth and revitalizes communities. 

Siemens Gamesa last month laid off 130 workers at its turbine blade manufacturing plant in Iowa, just months after GE Renewable Energy decided to close an Arkansas factory and eliminate 470 jobs.

The companies reported shrinking demand for their products, even though U.S. consumption of wind energy increases every year.

America’s prosperity depends not only on harnessing this crucial energy source but also ensuring that highly skilled U.S. workers build the components with the cleanest technology available.

Right now, the nation relies on imported steel and turbine components from foreign manufacturers like China while America’s own steel industry—well equipped for this production—struggles because of dumping and other unfair trade practices.

Steel makes up the bulk of turbine hubs and the wind towers themselves. It’s also used to make the cranes and platforms necessary for installing the towers.

Yet the potential boon to America’s steel industry is just one reason to ramp up domestic production of wind energy infrastructure.

American steel production ranks among the cleanest in the world, while China has the highest carbon emissions of any steelmaking nation and flouts environmental regulations.

The nation’s highly-skilled steelmaking workforce must play an essential role in the deeply-needed revitalization and modernization of the nation’s failing infrastructure. Producing the components for harnessing wind energy domestically and cleanly is an important step that will put Americans to work and position the United States to be world leaders in this growing industry.

 

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There is Dignity in All Work

There is Dignity in All Work