The Unholy Alliance: Fossil Fuels And Government

The American public has a long history with the fossil fuel industry, punctuated by disasters like the Teapot Dome scandal and the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. But the biggest scandal is ongoing: the cosy relationship between the industry and government.

Fossil Fuels

For decades, despite overwhelming scientific evidence of climate change, federal and state governments (world over) have actively supported the production and consumption of fossil fuels. This includes subsidies, tax breaks, and expedited permitting processes – all for an industry demonstrably harming the planet.

The roots of this issue run deep. Since the 1950s, scientists warned of the dangers of fossil fuels, yet they still account for 80% of U.S. energy. Open Secrets reveals that the industry spent a staggering over $1 trillion on election campaigns since 1990, influencing policy and hindering climate action.

Profits over Planet

This influence isn’t limited to politics. Between 1990 and 2020, major oil companies spent $3.6 billion on advertising, potentially shaping public perception. While scientists urge leaving fossil fuels in the ground, the industry continues drilling, generating a daily average of $2.8 billion over the past 50 years. These profits, exceeding $1 trillion annually in recent years, could have funded the clean energy transition.

However, the industry chose a different path – deception and intimidation. Instead of investing in a sustainable future, they lobbied policymakers, misled the public, and silenced critics.

The Cost of Inaction

The American people shoulder the burden of this alliance in four ways:

  • Subsidies: Taxpayer money directly supports the industry.
  • Energy Bills: Consumers pay high prices for fossil fuels.
  • Health and Cleanup: The public health burden of pollution and the cost of environmental remediation are significant.
  • Climate Disasters: The increasing frequency and intensity of extreme weather events driven by climate change come with a hefty price tag.

Despite international efforts to reduce CO2 emissions, scientists predict concentrations to reach a record high of nearly 427 ppm this year.

Breaking Free

The industry’s greed has led us to a “civilizational emergency,” the threshold of a world where suffocating heat, floods, storm surges, wildfires, drought and rising seas are the norm. The only way out of this is IF we elect officials who prioritize the environment and hold the fossil fuel industry accountable.

Reference- Open Secrets, Statista, The Hill article, Forbes, CNN