By Jessica Goad, Manager of Research and Outreach, Center for American Progress.
While Occupy Seattle continues in downtown Seattle, a group of concerned citizens led by Environment Washington held press conferences over the last two days in Seattle and Yakima to call for an end to subsidies to Big Oil companies that have already reaped billions in profits this year. Rachel Padgett of Fuse Washington spoke at Environment Washington’s press conference about Americans’ growing awareness of and frustration with corporate greed that spurred her and other activists to call for an end to special tax breaks for oil companies:
We all know that thousands of Washington families are struggling. High unemployment, record foreclosures, and skyrocketing poverty are pushing many of us to the brink. We’re seeing this frustration boiling over in the hundreds of Occupy protests around the country. Simply put, we’re sick and tired of super-wealthy corporations making record profits while the rest of us are just struggling to get by. Handouts to Big Oil don’t reduce our dependence on foreign oil, they don’t create jobs, and it doesn’t rebuild our economy. They just pad the oil companies’ record profits while adding to our deficit.
To further promote its message, Environment Washington took a mobile billboard to Seattle, Tacoma, and Olympia, while in Yakima, the group placed as stationary billboard on an important road in the middle of the city. Both billboards read “Big Oil Gets Tax Breaks, We Get the Pollution.”
Speakers at the press conferences in both Seattle and Yakima called on Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA) to use her “unique position” as the co-chairwoman of the super committee to end oil subsidies as a critical way to reduce the deficit. This is because taxpayer-funded oil subsidies will cost $77 billion between 2011-2021, according to a report from the Center for American Progress.
A number of congressional leaders have begun to realize the importance of ending oil subsidies as a debt-reducing mechanism, as seen in a recent letter to the super committee from 35 members of the House of Representatives, who stated: “In the current budgetary environment, the United States can no longer afford to give away billions of dollars every year to corporations earning billions of dollars in profits and costing American taxpayers twice: at the pump and through the tax code.” A similar letter from 14 senators two days ago also called on the super committee to eliminate subsidies to the five biggest oil companies.