This is the theme of the Sierra Club's new initiative to begin transferring federal tax subsidies from old technologies to new. Concentrating on the current Pennsylvania primary they are attending campaign events with petitions and organizing an election day/Earth Day (they are the same this year) effort to work the polls and increase awareness. Poll workers armed with Sierra Club petitions can volunteer at their website.
Last year, the country’s five largest oil companies made $123 billion in profits, while benefiting from billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies. Meanwhile, critical renewable energy tax incentives are set to expire at the end of this year. The America Wind Energy Association estimates that up to 75,000 America jobs could be lost if these incentives are not renewed early this year.
“Right now, Pennsylvanians have choices to make. We can either support subsidies for Big Oil, or support creating a new energy future for America, built on clean renewable energy’” said Rachel Martin, Sierra Club Regional Representative. “Taxpayer subsidies for big oil companies have brought us nothing but soaring gas prices and inflation. Shifting to renewable sources of energy like wind and solar, however, will help build our economy, create good, green jobs, and help solve global warming.”
Over the next two weeks, Sierra Club activists will be circulating petitions and raising awareness about this issue at candidate events and at polling places, and holding major events in Pittsburgh and Philadelphia.
“Soon, Senators McCain, Clinton, Obama, and Specter will have the opportunity to vote on redirecting subsidies from the oil companies to incentives for job-creating renewable energy, and to demonstrate whether they stand for PA’s working families, or for big oil companies,” said Martin. “It’s time for the Senators to move forward and vote for clean energy, not Big Oil. We are asking them to vote yes on HR 5351, the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2008.”
Cathy Duvall, the Sierra Club's National Political Director, called on Congress "to put its money where its mouth is" and fund wind, solar and other renewable energy sources instead of continuing to subsidize the oil industry. They are attempting to influence the many United States Senators in and campaigning through Pennsylvania this month.
It's difficult to argue that at $112/barrel the oil industry continues to need corporate welfare from taxpayers. It is the renewable, clean energy industry which should be receiving these funds and the Sierra Club is pushing legislation in the Senate to do just that. The bill currently in the Senate is not enough and long term tax subsidies are needed according to the organization.
Sierra Club volunteers and activists are seeking to do three things: attend candidate events to circulate petitions and increase visibility on these issues, do media events at gas stations in Philadelphia and Pittsburgh to create awareness, and recruit volunteers to work the polls on Earth Day which coincides with the Pennsylvania primary election April 22nd.