The latest reminder of the unfairness of life comes from the good folks at GOOD magazine and graphics partner DeepLocal. In a handy chart, they show just how stuffed the fossil fuel industry has gotten on government tax breaks and cash handouts, while the much smaller share of federal backing that goes to renewable energy has been the target of Congressional investigations.
Between 2002 and 2008, renewable energy garnered $12.2 billion in government support, with $6 billion in direct spending and $6.2 billion in tax breaks, according to data from the Environmental Law Institute. Fossil fuels raked in $70.2 billion in the same time, $16.3 billion directly and $53.9 billion in tax breaks — all while oil companies have been recording massive, record profits.
Meanwhile, corn ethanol, a fuel that survives on federal subsidies, brought in $11 billion in tax breaks and $5 billion in direct spending between 2002 and 2008. That, in turn, has made it possible for the United States to turn fossil fuels (diesel for trucks and tractors, natural gas for fertilizer, etc.) into plants, and then turn those plants back into a mandated and price-supported fossil fuel substitute, at a significant reduction in net energy and at great environmental cost.