subsidies federal budget green scissors wasteful spending

Green Scissors Would Save $380 billion in US Budget
nuclear power earthquake fracking

Earthquake Is a Wakeup Call on Dirty Energy Standards

Left-right coalition identifies huge cuts in wasteful giveaways that harm the environment. We trim, blend, and append four 2011 articles from: (1) Friends of the Earth, Aug 24, on Green Scissors by A.A. Wolf; (2) Weekly Wastebasket, Aug 26, on subsidies by Taxpayers for Common Sense; (3), Aug 25, on quakes by D. Wysham; and (4) Op-Ed News, Aug 26, on jobs by K. Mattis.

by Ailis Aaron Wolf, by Taxpayers for Common Sense, by Daphne Wysham, and by Kristine Mattis

Ending a third of a trillion dollars in environmentally harmful subsidies could go a long way toward solving our nation’s budget challenges, a right-left coalition said.

Their report provides a roadmap to saving up to $380 billion over five years. To see the report, click here .

“Green Scissors 2011” is by four organizations: Friends of the Earth, deficit hawk Taxpayers for Common Sense, consumer watchdog Public Citizen, and free-market think tank The Heartland Institute.

“While all four groups have different missions, histories, goals, and ideas about the role of government,” the groups write in the report, “we all agree that we can begin to overcome our nation’s budgetary and environmental woes by tackling spending that is not only wasteful but environmentally harmful.”

The groups propose cutting many fossil fuel, nuclear, and alternative energy subsidies. Other targets include massive giveaways of publicly owned timber, poorly conceived road projects, and a bevy of questionable Army Corps of Engineers water projects.

“The Green Scissors report documents the breadth and depth of damage that government spending does to our environment,” said Heartland Institute Vice President Eli Lehrer. “Cutting government in the right places can make for a cleaner, healthier environment.”

Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, said, “For too long lobbyists kept these undeserving programs and tax preferences for the fossil fuel and nuclear industry funded.”

The report notes: “From the more than a century old 1872 Mining Law that gives away precious metals -- like gold and copper -- on federal lands for free, to $53 billion in lost oil and gas revenues from royalty free leases in federal waters granted in the late 1990s, to the $6 billion per year ethanol tax credit, there are dozens of such reforms.”

"Conservatives believe in the accountability of the marketplace,” said former Rep. Robert Inglis (R-S.C.). “Subsidies cost us money, and they shield some participants from innovation. It's that innovation that can grow our economy and clean up the air, water and land."

For more than 16 years, Green Scissors has exposed subsidies and programs that both harm the environment and waste taxpayer dollars.

To see the press release, click here .

Green Scissors details billions of dollars in agriculture, energy, land and water, and transportation spending waste that should be a part of any deficit reduction plan. There are timber subsidies, ranching subsidies, and subsidies for companies overseas. The list goes on.

Subsidizing rural airline passengers up to a $1,000 a piece, spending $2 billion on a boondoggle -- the economically unjustified Mississippi River navigation locks -- or building fancy bridges when just as useful, but far cheaper, alternatives are available, is something we cannot afford.

The nuclear industry is set to receive billions in loan guarantees for new reactor construction, new reactors that are plagued with cost, safety, and technological concerns. These are high-risk loans that private markets won't finance, so why should taxpayers take on this financial burden? Or promoting high-risk development and crop production with billions of dollars in flood and crop insurance subsidies.

JJS: More on subsidized nuclear power.

How close did we come to catastrophe? The recent 5.9 quake’s epicenter was in Mineral, Virginia, approximately 10 miles from two nuclear power reactors at North Anna. According to Dominion Power, operators of the plants, the two reactors were designed to withstand a 5.9 to 6.1 quake.

What could cause the quakes to rumble through a part of the United States that rarely sees such powerful quakes? Was it a mere freak of nature? Or is something else going on?

A natural gas drilling technique called hydraulic fracturing is linked to earthquakes. For example, Arkansas has experienced a swarm of earthquakes in the aftermath of hydraulic fracturing (also called “fracking”) for natural gas. Other regions of the country where fracking is taking place -- Texas, West Virginia, and New York -- have also witnessed a series of quakes in the vicinity of these drilling sites. In the process of fracking, water and toxic fluid is injected deep underground at high pressure deep into rocks in order to actually create micro-earthquakes. These mini-quakes, in turn, release the gas trapped deep in the rock, allowing it to bubble to the surface. The earthquake swarms that follow are caused less by the fracking itself than by the reinjection of wastewater from fracking, blasted under high pressure into the ground. The wastewater can act as a lubricant, while also providing pressure that can lead to a quake.

To see the article, click here .

JJS: Neither subsidizing business nor employing workers is especially green.

Certainly, the basic necessities of life (food, clothing, shelter, and water) when not obtained through reuse and recycling, should be produced and distributed in the most sustainable way. Yet already, new and used clothing items far exceed the number of people who need them. Empty homes dot the landscape across North America. Half of all food produced is wasted. It is a problem of allocation, not supply.

To see the article, click here .

JJS: What do we replace jobs with? With Citizens Dividends, with shares of the commonwealth, with everyone getting some of all the trillions that society spends for the nature it uses. That’s what.


Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.

Also see:

Coal Costs up to a Half Trillion Dollars Annually

The EU and a civil servant say let’s pay for nature

Nobelist Stiglitz Calls for George's Tax

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