U.S. Rep. Jamie B. Raskin (D-Md.) has signed on to a letter from 54 House Democrats calling on congressional leaders to end federal subsidies for the fossil fuel industry as they consider ways to pay for President Biden’s Build Back Better Act “human infrastructure” plan.
Biden’s proposal seeks to infuse $3.5 trillion into the economy for COVID-19 relief and social service programs. A bipartisan bricks-and-mortar infrastructure plan is also making its way through Congress.
In the letter, addressed Monday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.), the House Democrats praised Biden’s efforts to roll back fossil fuel subsidies in his proposed spending plan, noting that doing so would pump $121 billion into federal coffers over the next decade — a figure that includes $86 billion from tax breaks for foreign oil and gas companies.
The lawmakers cited statistics from the International Monetary Fund showing that the U.S. government ranks second in the world in its support of the oil and gas industry.
“We are greatly appreciative of the President’s focus on repealing these harmful and wasteful subsidies,” the House Democrats wrote. “We support a deal that sufficiently enhances climate justice, especially in repealing fossil fuel subsidies. Congress must follow through in implementing the President’s vision.”
The lawmakers went on to argue that fossil fuel subsidies should be repealed “because, instead of enhancing American energy independence or creating jobs, they simply enhance the profits of fossil fuel companies.” They said that oil and gas companies received $8.2 billion in 2020 from the CARES Act pandemic relief bill, while the industry still laid off 16% of its workforce.
The letter was spearheaded by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), chair of the House Oversight and Reform Chairman Subcommittee on Environment, and Rep. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), chair of the full Oversight committee.
In a statement on Twitter, Raskin said he decided to sign on to the letter — he’s the only Marylander on it — because “Fossil fuel companies spent decades suppressing the truth about climate change, yet still receive billions in taxpayer subsidies each year. Our govt shouldn’t be funding these agents of disinformation.”