On his Fox News show, Glenn Beck hosted several oil and gas industry executives to attack President Obama's energy policies and tout fossil fuels. During the show, Beck hyped the false claim by one of his guests, the CEO of the American Petroleum Institute, that "the oil and natural gas industry gets zero subsidies" from the federal government.
Beck Hypes False Claim That Oil And Gas Companies Receive "Zero" Government Subsidies
On Beck, American Petroleum Institute's Jack Gerard Claims "The Oil And Natural Gas Industry Gets Zero Subsidies." During his show, Beck asked American Petroleum Institute CEO Jack Gerard how many subsidies oil companies get. Gerard said "zero." Beck made Gerard repeat his statement and then facetiously told Gerard that he must be lying. Gerard then repeated the claim that "the oil and natural gas industry gets zero subsidies" from the federal government a third time. From the show:
BECK: Tom, you have been going after General Electric for a very long time, for a very long time. General Electric, they're building all these turbines, they're making money, and they're doing all these green things. And they're getting -- you want to talk about subsidies, how many -- seriously Jack, how many subsidies do the oil companies get?
BECK: Zero. Say it again.
GERARD: The oil and natural industry gets zero subsidies.
BECK: That's not true. I've got --
GERARD: That's absolutely true.
BECK: No, I've got cartoons here that are up on the wall. It shows the fat cats getting subsidies -- the oil companies.
GERARD: The oil and gas industry gets zero subsidies. Now, while some would like to convince you and make you believe we get subsidies, the tax provisions they're talking about -- that they've proposed raising our costs $80 billion over the next ten years -- are provisions applied to all industry, to the General Electrics you mentioned earlier.
GERARD: What they've done is identified five companies that they want to deny the ability to recover our costs to produce energy. It's punitive, it's vindictive, and it doesn't help us produce the energy we need for this country.
CRS Report Shows Oil And Gas Companies Get Billions Of Dollars Of Tax Credits
CRS Report Describes Subsidies Explicitly For Fossil Fuels. An April 14 report by the Congressional Research Service (CRS) titled, "Energy Tax Policy: Issues in the 112th Congress," details seven federal tax breaks explicitly targeted to the oil and gas industry that cost the federal government billions of dollars.
[CRS Report, Energy Tax Policy, 4/14/11, via OpenCRS.com]
Environmental Law Institute: Subsidies To Fossil Fuel Industry "Totaled Approximately $72 Billion" Between 2002 And 2008. Using a broader definition of subsidies to the oil and gas industry than CRS, the Environmental Law Institute found:
The federal government provided substantially larger subsidies to fossil fuels than to renewables. Subsidies to fossil fuels -- a mature, developed industry that has enjoyed government support for many years -- totaled approximately $72 billion over the study period, representing a direct cost to taxpayers.
Subsidies for renewable fuels, a relatively young and developing industry, totaled $29 billion over the same period. [Environmental Law Institute, September 2009]
Senate Republicans Blocked Attempt To Repeal Oil And Gas Industry-Specific Subsidies. Contrary to Gerard's claim that people are talking simply about not allowing the oil and gas industry to take advantage of tax "provisions applied to all industry," the Senate considered a bill that would repeal many tax breaks that benefit only the oil and gas industry. Although a majority of senators voted for the bill, it was blocked by a filibuster on a near-party-line vote. The bill would have repealed tax breaks such as:
President Obama Has Also Called For Repeal Of Other Oil And Gas Industry-Specific Subsidies. As noted by PolitiFact, in his fiscal year 2010 budget, Obama outlined "nine different measures under the category 'eliminate oil and gas company preferences.'"
President Obama proposed many changes to the U.S. tax code when running for office, including eliminating oil and gas tax loopholes.
When he unveiled his first budget outline on Feb. 26, 2009, he included a number of measures that would revoke tax advantages for oil companies.
The budget outline calls for nine different measures under the category "Eliminate oil and gas company preferences." Among other things, the outline says the Obama administration will "levy excise tax on Gulf of Mexico oil and gas (limits excess royalty relief)," "repeal enhanced oil recovery credit," "repeal marginal well tax credit," "repeal expensing of intangible drilling costs," and "repeal deduction for tertiary injectants." [PolitiFact.com, 5/18/11]