Wonder no longer: oil and gas get subsidies out the wazoo. Here’s the latest example from British Columbia…

The province will spend $408 million over 15 years to bolster northeastern B.C.’s oil and gas industry, Minister of Energy and Mines Richard Neufeld said Tuesday, which includes new or expanded support for resource road construction, community infrastructure, education and the reclamation of abandoned natural gas wells.

Of course, this sort of subusidy is just the tip of the iceberg: in much of the US, oil and gas extraction get special tax treatment — and, some would argue, privileged access to public lands; gas & automobile taxes don’t pay for the full cost of roads; the health costs of car accidents and smog aren’t included in the price of highway fuels; and the risks associated with global warming are borne by everyone across the globe, not just by those lucky enough to be able to afford to drive.

To me, this puts the subsidies for, say, wind power in perspective. Renewable energy subsidies probably don’t give an unfair advantage; they’re just a way of levelling the playing field, so that–given all of the subsidies that already go to fossil fuels–wind and solar can compete on something approaching even footing.

Grist thanks its sponsors. Become one.