Environmentalists, Local Constituents Call for End to Wasteful Subsidies to Big Oil

Media Releases

Environment New Mexico


Albuquerque – Today, Environment New Mexico was joined by Ona Porter from Prosperity Works and local activists to call for an end to $44 billion in subsidies to Big Oil. The groups highlighted the environmental and public health threats—from last year’s massive BP Gulf oil spill to global warming pollution—posed by America’s continued dependence on oil. They also pointed to the enormous profitability of big oil companies: The top five companies have already reported over $67 billion in profits in the first half of this year.

“New Mexicans are paying twice for a gallon of gasoline, once at the pump and a second time on tax day,” said Maxine Paul with Environment New Mexico. “It’s time for us to get off oil, and to stop handing $44 billion in tax breaks to a polluting industry that already costs us dearly in terms of our health and environment.”

Royal Dutch Shell recently announced 2011 second quarter earnings, reporting profits of $8 billion, a 77% jump from the same period a year ago. Exxon recently reported a whopping $10.7 billion in profits for the quarter, or $21.3 billion in the first half of this year—an increase of 54% from 2010. Some of these new funds are invested in additional lobbying, with Exxon increasing lobbying expenditures by 25 percent this past quarter, bringing its total this year to $3 million. 

“Despite Big Oil’s immense profits, some in Congress have protected billions of dollars in special tax breaks for the oil and gas companies while telling New Mexicans that we cannot afford to protect our environment and public health from the impacts of their pollution,” said Ms. Paul. “To add insult to injury, Big Oil has decided to use some of its new profits to make sure Congress keeps doing just that.”

The organizations present at today’s event applauded Representative Martin Heinrich for his vote against continued subsidies to the most profitable oil industries.

“Representative Heinrich has provided an important voice of reason on behalf of New Mexican families,” said Paul. “Representative Heinrich has been a leader in the fight to take our money back from these companies and remove many of the hefty taxpayer subsidies Big Oil enjoys.”

“At a time when New Mexico’s families are making tough financial decisions, our nation’s biggest oil companies have continued to take advantage of taxpayer subsidies while earning close to $1 trillion in profit over the last 10 years,” said Representative Heinrich in a statement read by a staff member. “Unnecessary tax breaks for major oil companies should be first on the chopping block so that we can strengthen the programs that make much needed differences in the lives of New Mexicans like Medicare, Social Security and clean energy research and development.”

Ona Porter, President and CEO of Prosperity Works said that “ending big oil subsidies as proposed in H.R 610 would free up an estimated $45 Billion dollars …enough to fund Headstart for our nation’s poorest children for more than six years. You decide, shall we give children the opportunity to be successful students and citizens or use tax payer money to underwrite the cost of doing business for an industry that is making record profits year after year?”

Ending subsidies to big oil is only one step in getting America off its over-dependence on oil. In recent weeks, President Obama unveiled a clean car standard outline that will require cars and light trucks to reach the equivalent of a 54.5 miles-per-gallon (mpg) standard by 2025, and finalized a similar rule for heavy-duty vehicles, including work trucks and buses, through 2018. These combined standards have the potential to reduce our oil dependence by 1.8 million barrels per day by 2030.

“Instead of throwing billions of taxpayer dollars at the most profitable industry on earth, we need to get off oil,” added Maxine Paul. “President Obama has already taken the first steps toward creating millions of manufacturing jobs building cars that run on little to no oil, taking us closer to ending our costly dependence on these companies and their dirty product for good.”