By John Vlahakis

Washington lawmakers Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) teamed up on Thursday to introduce legislation designed to stop subsidies to the oil, coal and natural gas industries, preserving an estimated $110 billion over the next ten years.  The measure, End Polluter Welfare Act, would do away with tax breaks, financial assistance, royalty relief, direct federal research and development and many loopholes that benefit the fossil fuel industry — coal, oil, and natural gas — according to the bill’s authors. It has the backing of numerous groups, including Friends of the Earth, Taxpayers for Common Sense and 350.org, which has vowed to campaign on Capitol Hill in support of the legislation.  The Yale Project on Climate Change has reported that as of November 2011, 70 percent of Americans opposed federal subsidies for the fossil fuel industry, including majorities of both Republicans and Independents.  Saving $110 billion over the next ten years could go a long way at reducing the federal deficit.  Couple that with a troop draw down in the Middle East, these monies could come back to reduce our debt and to provide financing for projects at home, where they are needed now more than ever.  It’s about time we ended subsidies to an industry that clearly does not need taxpayer financial help to be successful.

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