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Sen. Bernie Sanders' Posts

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Mitt Romney’s winners and losers

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The Big Energy industries (oil, coal and gas) along with their political allies like Mitt Romney are waging war against sustainable energy and efforts to transform our energy system and reverse global warming. In many instances, they are aided and abetted by the very powerful nuclear power industry.

One of their main lines of attack (used repeatedly by Romney in his first debate with President Obama) is that the federal government is picking energy “winners and losers.” Romney says he will not invest in “chasing fads and picking winners and losers” among energy technologies and will instead allow the free market to determine energy development.

Romney is right about one thing: The government does pick winners and losers in the energy sector. What Romney has not told the American people, however, is that the big winners of federal support are the already immensely profitable fossil fuel and nuclear industries, not sustainable energy.

As a member of both the Senate energy and environment committees, I am working to stop the handouts to the fossil fuel industry. I have introduced legislation called the End Polluter Welfare Act. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) filed the companion bill in the House of Representatives. Our measure calls for the elimination for all subsidies to the oil, gas, and coal industries. Using the best available estimates from the nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation and other budget experts, we found that over $113 billion in federal subsidies will go to fossil fuel corporations over the next 10 years. These subsidies benefit some of the wealthiest corporations on the planet, including the five largest oil corporations, which made a combined profit of $1 trillion over the last decade. Unlike sustainable energy incentives, many of these fossil fuel subsidies are written permanently into the tax code by industry lobbyists, which means they never expire.

Let me give you just a few examples of outrageously strong federal support for Big Energy companies:

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Let’s end polluter welfare

Sen. Bernie Sanders rallies supporters of the End Polluter Welfare Act.

At a time when we have more than $15 trillion in national debt, American taxpayers are set to give away over $110 billion to the oil, gas, and coal industries over the next decade. Clearly, we cannot afford it. The five largest oil companies made over $1 trillion in profits in the last decade, with some paying no federal income taxes for part of that time, so they certainly do not need it.

It is time we end this corporate welfare in the form of massive subsidies and tax breaks [PDF] to hugely profitable fossil-fuel corporations. It is time for Congress to support the interests of the taxpayer instead of powerful special interests like the oil and coal industries. That is why I joined with Rep. Keith Ellison to introduce legislation in the Senate and the House called the End Polluter Welfare Act. Our proposal is backed by grassroots and public-interest organizations 350.org, Friends of the Earth, Taxpayers for Common Sense, and many others.

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Stop the nuclear-industry welfare program

With this nation facing a $15 trillion national debt, there is no shortage of opinions about how to move toward deficit reduction in the federal budget. One topic you will not hear discussed very often on Capitol Hill is the idea of ending one of the oldest American welfare programs -- the extraordinary amount of corporate welfare going to the nuclear energy industry.

Many in Congress talk of getting "big government off the backs of private industry." Here’s an industry we’d like to get off the backs of the taxpayers.

As a senator who is the longest-serving independent in Congress, and as the president of an independent and nonpartisan budget watchdog organization, we do not necessarily agree on everything when it comes to energy and budget policy in the United States. But one thing we strongly agree on is the need to end wasteful subsidies that prop up the nuclear industry. After 60 years, this industry should not require continued and massive corporate welfare. It is time for the nuclear power industry to stand on its own two feet.

Read more: Nuclear

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America must not back down on sustainable energy

Clockwise from top left: Sens. John Kerry, Sheldon Whitehouse, Barbara Boxer, and Bernie Sanders.If you read just the headlines these days, you might think renewable energy in America is going the way of Solyndra. Don't take our word for it: A recent headline from Fox News declared "ENTIRE Solar Industry on Brink of Collapse." We cannot allow long-time opponents of renewable energy to focus the discussion only on Solyndra (whose higher-priced panels could not compete as solar costs came down) when we should be thinking about competing with China to win the next energy revolution. Why? Because the race is …

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Now is the time to transform our energy system

The BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is an unmitigated disaster. Its full consequences will not be known for decades. What we do know, however, is that BP President Tony Hayward was incredibly wrong when he stated that the spill will have "a very, very modest environmental impact." Quite the contrary! In fact, one of the most beautiful and productive coastal regions of the world is being turned into a giant cesspool and, in the midst of a major recession, thousands of workers are going to lose their livelihoods. It goes without saying that BP must pick up …

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On Earth Day, a senator’s demand for public policy based on real science

As we celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, the most serious environmental problem that we face is not global warming or the pollution of our air, water, land and food. It is whether or not our country moves forward in developing public policy based on science or whether we make decisions based on politics and fear mongering. When Americans walk into a doctor's office to get treated, they usually don't worry whether the physician's politics is progressive or conservative, Democrat or Republican. They want to know that the doctor they are seeing has been well trained in a scientifically …

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It’s time for a solar revolution

This country spends, in a typical year, $350 billion importing oil from Saudi Arabia and other foreign countries. While this is no doubt good news for the Saudi royal family, one of the richest in the world, it is bad news for the average American. The vast majority of the American people understand that now is the time to move to energy independence so that we are no longer subject to the greed of OPEC or Wall Street speculators, or need to fight "wars for oil" in the Middle East. Americans also know that if we are serious about addressing …

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We need an energy revolution

The United States today spends some $400 billion a year importing oil from countries like Saudi Arabia, Nigeria, Mexico, Russia, and Venezuela. Think for a moment what an incredible impact that same $400 billion a year could have on our country if that money were invested here and not abroad, in such areas as weatherization, energy efficiency, sustainable energies like wind, solar, geothermal, biomass, public transportation and automobiles that are energy efficient or don't use fossil fuels at all. What we are talking about is an energy revolution that leads us toward energy independence, the cessation of support for foreign …

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The Lieberman-Warner bill is not strong enough to do the job

Bernie Sanders. As a member of both the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee and the Energy and Natural Resources Committee it is my view that the time is long overdue for Congress to go beyond deal making and "politics as usual" in addressing the crisis of global warming. The droughts, floods and severe weather disturbances our planet is already experiencing will only get worse, potentially impacting billions of people, if we do not take bold and decisive action in the very near future. While the Lieberman-Warner cap and trade bill is a step forward, it goes nowhere near far …