In 2021, American taxpayers supported the US fossil fuel industry to the tune of at least $9.5 billion, according to the Fossil Fuel Subsidy Tracker, a platform monitoring such trends.
Yet despite repeated calls for their removal, tax breaks for companies that the nation depends on for energy and fuel — and whose products account for most US greenhouse gas emissions — are unlikely to be going away anytime soon.
"It's extremely difficult to make headway on this," Michael Ross, a political science professor with the University of California, Los Angeles, said in an interview. "It's much easier to block changes than to enact them and to play defense than offense when it comes to changing the tax code."
President Joe Biden views the tax breaks as money lost for the US Treasury and as undermining his efforts to cut dependence on fossil fuels. The president is again proposing to phase out a host of subsidies in the US tax code that benefit oil and gas companies.
The White House projects in its 2024 budget proposal that the subsidy repeals would boost federal tax receipts by $31 billion over 10 years. The largest subsidy, known as the "percentage depletion" for oil and gas wells, has been on the books since 1926.
More: Efforts to remove billions in US fossil fuel subsidies face uphill battle