Fossil fuels heavily subsidized

Letter writer Larry Kirkland criticized the coronavirus stimulus package, specifically the $35 billion for solar, wind and other clean energy. That $35 billion is a significant savings compared with the >$250 billion that subsidized the fossil fuel industry in 2018 alone (Management Information Services). Redirecting those subsidies will help cover costs of building desperately needed clean energy infrastructures.

But the real cost of fossil fuels can’t be measured in dollars. Land and lives continue to be ruined by the fossil fuel industry. Clean energy infrastructures will save lives now being lost to workers in, as well as neighbors of, coal, oil and gas industries.

Larry is concerned about environmental impacts of wind and solar. Rooftop solar panels now replace traditional roofing materials. No longer are “millions of acres of land for solar panels” needed, as he suggests. Improved battery technology has reduced energy storage costs immensely. Like Larry, I was concerned that wind turbines would kill birds, but scientists have found that sensors, light and sound can prevent these deaths. More birds are killed each year by cats, windows and loss of habitat. These are problems we can solve.

Experts studying a carbon fee and dividend alternatives have concluded that this approach is the best, most expedient solution for reducing atmospheric carbon. Federal legislation, such as HR763 (from the Citizens’ Climate Lobby), is a well-conceived, market-driven plan that will impose a fee on fuels that emit carbon dioxide. Those fees will be used to fund innovative technologies and return a dividend to consumers to offset rising prices on coal, oil and gas as the fee is applied.

The fossil fuel industry is dirty, costly, destructive, and most importantly, unsustainable. The sooner we stop subsidizing that industry, the sooner we can improve the health of the planet as well as its inhabitants.

Trish Hartzell


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