Jamie Henn in Truthout:
Recently, the Federal Reserve announced that it would be loosening its lending guidelines so that more corporations, even those with massive pre-existing debts, could take part in the bailout feeding frenzy. As Alexis Goldstein explains, the main beneficiary of these changes was the group that lobbied hardest for them: the fossil fuel industry. Of all the reasons why coal, oil and gas companies don’t deserve more public support, there’s one that’s particularly glaring: they’re already getting it. That’s right: Every year, for over a century, these companies have gotten tens of billions of dollars in bailouts. They’re just called something different: subsidies.
The level of existing government support for the fossil fuel industry is so widespread that it’s difficult to calculate. Oil Change International, which has tracked fossil fuel subsidies for years, estimates that direct U.S. government subsidies to oil, gas and coal companies total around $20 billion a year. These figures don’t account for the high costs that fossil fuels impose on our environment and public health, nor the $81 billion the military spends each year on defending oil reserves overseas, costs that all end up being borne by the public.