HARRISBURG, Pa., April 14, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- PennFuture today issued an updated version of its Fossil Fuel Subsidy Report, which indicates that the dollar amount of subsidies to the highly-profitable, mature fossil fuel industry continues to balloon, having now reached $3.25 billion annually. In 2012, the statewide environmental organization's report showed annual fossil fuel subsidies in Pennsylvania to be $2.9 billion, at the time roughly 10 percent of the state budget. The subsidies are being granted at a time when the state faces a $1.5 billion budget shortfall and investment in emerging renewable energy industries such as solar and wind are at fractional levels.
"This report is about transparency," said Rob Altenburg, director of the PennFuture Energy Center. "Creating billions of dollars worth of fossil fuel subsidies while neglecting sensible long-term investments is a choice that has consequences not only for the citizens of Pennsylvania today but for our children and future generations. The people should be informed and have a say before this choice is made for them, and we hope this report launches that conversation."
While the report states that it cannot account for all subsidies including those for remediation of the impacts of fossil fuel extraction, it is able to make clearer the absence of any equivalency between support for fossil fuels and renewable energy industries such as solar and wind.
"To say that renewable energy sources only compete when subsidized is false," said Evan Endres, program manager for the PennFuture Energy Center. "Renewable energy sources have thrived when smart policy signals that encourage healthy market growth create a level playing field instead of one distorted in favor of fossil fuels. Decades of subsidies, market supports, and burdensome legacy costs have distorted the playing field. This report is a snapshot of a single year of such distortions."
The report further notes that the cost of these fossil fuel subsidies translates to $794 per Pennsylvania taxpayer.
PennFuture acting president and CEO John Norbeck was blunt in his assessment. "We need to evaluate the total costs of ongoing subsidies, especially with respect to unconventional shale gas development, in the hopes of avoiding the historical remediation and reclamation costs the state, and taxpayers, have endured on abandoned oil, gas and coal extraction sites. We can't go down that road again."
PennFuture is a statewide public interest membership organization founded in 1998 with offices in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and Wilkes-Barre. The organization's activities include litigating cases before regulatory bodies and in local, state, and federal courts; advocating and advancing legislative action on a state and federal level; public education; and assisting citizens in public advocacy.