I just heard today that the House has passed a bill to take current oil subsidies and re-allocate them to subsidies for renewal energy. Has there been an issue in front of Congress recently that has been more clearly sensible? I personally think you'd be hard pressed to find a better idea. With the price of oil ranging at historic highs between $70 to $100 per barrel, Big Oil has been making record profits for years now. Seriously, how can anyone defend subsidies for an industry in which the market leader made a profit of 11.7 billion in the fourth quarter of last year, and a total of $40.61 billion for the whole year? And we're giving them tax breaks?
Unfortunately, the bill faces resistance from Republicans in the Senate and from President Bush, who say that the removal of the subsidies "would raise fuel prices for consumers, discourage oil and gas exploration in the United States and unfairly discriminate against a single industry". That's just silly-- the measure would amount to less than 2 percent of the profits of the five biggest oil companies, and would amount to about a penny a gallon of gas if the cost were passed along to consumers. And as for being unfair-- well, isn't a subsidy an unfair favor in the first place? I can't see how anyone can seriously argue that these companies need subsidies while they're making tremendous profits. It really baffles me.
And I think the real point is, here, that America's continued reliance on oil is unsustainable, since global oil reserves will only last us 50 more years and will start to decline in production long before then; since oil will become only more expensive as it becomes scarcer and consumption from third-world countries like China and India increases; and since it's politically unwise to continue to purchase high-priced fuel that puts money in the pockets of countries whom we consider to be unfriendly or even hostile to us.