12 January 2017   Leave a comment

In his confirmation hearings, the nominee for Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was asked whether the US would adhere to its commitment to the G20 group to phase out all tax subsidies for the fossil fuel industry.  Tillerson’s response was: “I’m not aware of anything the fossil fuel industry gets that I would characterize as a subsidy.”  Actually, according to Oil Change International:

“As of July 2014, Oil Change International estimates United States fossil fuel subsidies at $37.5 billion annually, including $21 billion in production and exploration subsidies. Other credible estimates of annual United States fossil fuel subsidies range from $10 billion to $52 billion annually – yet none of these include costs borne by taxpayers related to the climate, local environmental, and health impacts of the fossil fuel industry.”

According to the US Self-Review of tax subsidies for the Oil & Gas industry for the G20, which is a more conservative estimate, the oil and gas companies receive almost $8 billion in direct tax subsidies.  The subsidies are the result of intensive lobbying by the fossil fuel industry.  According to ThinkProgress:

“Under Tillerson, Exxon’s political spending greatly increased, growing from a little over $700,000 in 2004 to $1.5 million in 2016. And, according to OpenSecrets, each year, around 90 percent of that money went to Republican candidates, the same candidates more likely to vote against ending fossil fuel subsidies (in 2012, for example, only two Republican senators voted for the Repeal Big Oil Tax Subsidies Act).”

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The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) was tasked in 2009 to determine what is known as the “social cost of carbon” (SC-CO2).  The NAS defines the social cost of carbon as: “…an economic metric intended to provide a comprehensive estimate of the net damages – that is, the monetized value of the net impacts, both negative and positive – from the global climate change that results from a small (1-metric ton) increase in carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions.”   The SC-CO2 is a value used by the federal government to determine the need for a variety of environmental rules and is currently set at about $36 per ton of carbon dioxide.   The NAS  has released its report and finds that the value needs to be significantly refined.  It is unlikely, however, that the Trump Administration will engage in that effort.

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France will be holding a national election this spring and the two leading candidates for president are former Prime Minister Francois Fillon and Marine Le Pen, the candidate from the National Front Party.  Le Pen holds views quite similar to those of US President-elect Trump.  She wants closer relations with Russia to fight what both she and he call “radical Islamic terrorism” and she wants to erect trade barriers to protect French workers from imports from low wage countries.  Her chances for winning the election have certainly been buttressed by Trump’s election and the Brexit vote.

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Posted January 12, 2017 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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