Big oil and gas companies are among the most profitable companies in the world. So why do they continue to benefit from billions of dollars annually in taxpayer giveaways, such as tax deductions, special accounting rules, and drilling without paying royalties for exploiting the American people’s natural resources? These subsidies for polluters are especially indefensible at a time when concern about our nation’s debt is prompting cuts to essential programs, including those that safeguard the air we breathe and the water we drink.
President Obama has called for eliminating oil and gas subsidies that would save taxpayers tens of billions of dollars over the next decade. LCV will continue fighting until Congress repeals these and other wasteful polluter subsidies.
The British Petroleum (BP) oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico was the largest environmental disaster in our nation’s history. On April 20, 2010, BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil rig exploded, tragically killing 11 rig workers and sending 4.9 million barrels of oil into the Gulf of Mexico in an 87-day uninterrupted flow whose effects on fish and wildlife, wetlands, fishermen, and tourism businesses are still being felt to this day.
The BP spill painfully highlighted the dangers posed by offshore drilling and the broken and corrupt government oversight process. It became clear that oil companies were unprepared to contain a blowout of this magnitude and in water so deep. Oil companies were incentivized to under-invest in safety because of a cap on their liability at the absurdly low figure of $75 million in the event of a spill. And the government regulators at the Minerals Management Service had multiple missions in conflict with each other, as well as a far-too-cozy relationship with the oil companies they were supposed to watchdog.
Reforms to address these problems are needed now more than ever, especially as concerns about high gas prices prompt misguided calls for expanding offshore drilling. LCV will continue fighting for Congress to resist irresponsible calls to "drill, baby, drill" off our beaches and instead pass commonsense reforms to protect coastal communities from risky offshore drilling.
Americans are understandably growing increasingly worried about the dangers of “fracking” (or hydraulic fracturing), a natural gas production technique involving the underground injection of millions of gallons of water, plus sand and potentially toxic chemicals like diesel fuel and acids, at high pressure in order to create fractures in the underlying geology to extract natural gas. Reports of drinking water contamination in the film “Gasland” and other media have heightened concerns about fracking, which is now used in at least 33 states.
Unfortunately, fracking is one of only two injection processes that are exempted from the federal Safe Drinking Water Act, leaving regulation in the hands of states, many of which have inadequate protections. For example, in most states oil and gas companies are not required to publicly disclose the types and amounts of chemicals that are injected underground, meaning local residents have no way of knowing what sort of chemicals may have contaminated their drinking water. That is why LCV is committed to passing federal legislation to require oil and gas companies to disclose the chemicals they inject underground and to lift the exemption of fracking from federal regulation under the Safe Drinking Water Act.