A Billion Dollars Here, a Billion There Adds Up
By Marcia Cleveland on 09/28/2011 @ 10:30 AM
As part of his jobs plan, President Obama proposed ways to save $4 trillion over the next decade and increase employment. His plan has a lot of good news for the environment. First, he would cut fossil fuel tax breaks by $105.4 billion dollars over the next decade. FCNL would like to see these tax preferences cut by $345 billion, but one third of that is a good beginning.
These tax breaks serve no purpose. The price of fossil fuels is determined by the world commodity markets; the tax breaks do not bring prices down. Nor are they needed to encourage more drilling for oil and gas. Right now the price of oil is so high market forces provide ample encouragement.
Obama's plan also reduces incentives for poor land use, by cutting crop subsidy by $32 billion, reducing the subsidy for flood insurance by $4.2 billion and increasing fees charged by the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Interior by $3.7 billion. The plan requires companies to pay more to clean up their pollution by reinstating the tax on chemical companies that pays for Superfund cleanups. ($18.7 billion). Nuclear power plants would have to pay more for cleaning up closed plants ($2.2 billion) and hard rock mining companies - mostly gold and silver mines - have to contribute more to reclaiming their toxic sites. ($1.3 billion). That all adds up to $62 billion more that is good for the environment.
The only bad news is a $2.1 billion cut to land conservation programs in the agriculture budget. Obama's plan does not suggest ending the ethanol tax credit but that is probably because it will expire at the end of this year unless Congress extends it, which seems unlikely.
A billion here, a billion there adds up. Obama's plan asks for a total of $167.5 billion in new revenues that are good for the environment and reduce the deficit. Congress could do a great deal more than the President is asking. There is certainly enough money wasted on supporting wealthy corporations to save all of the programs we have that generate jobs and protect the poor. We need to compare our lavish support of wealthy corporations with the stingy attitude toward the most vulnerable people among us and not be afraid to call it immoral. If we do we will help the planet too.