The 4 Worst Climate Scams Our Taxes Are Funding Right Now

Published Apr 15, 2024


Climate and Energy

Taxpayers are paying billions for projects that corporations claim will fight climate change, but are really making things worse. Here are the top 4 offenders.

Taxpayers are paying billions for projects that corporations claim will fight climate change, but are really making things worse. Here are the top 4 offenders.

This spring, people across the country have carried out the annual ritual of filing their taxes. At the same time, megacorporations are benefiting from massive tax credits and tax breaks, to the delight of their CEOs and shareholders. They’re dodging taxes and reaping taxpayer dollars for profit.

This issue is especially stark when it comes to the energy sector. Many tax benefits are supposed to encourage projects that will fight climate change. But instead, many of these benefits are lining the pockets of corporations for climate scams that do more harm than good. 

Ahead of Tax Day, we’re bringing you the top four worst climate scams we’re paying for right now.

1. Carbon Capture and Storage: Big Oil’s Big Bet to Keep Drilling

Big Oil and Gas know that fossil-fueled energy is on its way out the door. So the industry is clawing on to profits in any way they can — while slapping a “climate fix” sticker on top. Its biggest scam yet: carbon capture and storage

Carbon capture technologies are supposed to pull carbon dioxide from operations like power plants, and even right out of the sky, to prevent more global warming. But we know carbon capture is expensive, it doesn’t work, and it will give the fossil fuel industry cover to continue drilling and polluting.

Nevertheless, we are paying for corporations’ failed experiments. The federal government has already poured billions into unsuccessful projects. Newer laws, including 2023’s Inflation Reduction Act, have designated additional billions toward new carbon capture projects. 

That money will have little to show for it by way of climate benefits. Instead, it’ll lead to more drilling and more emissions.

Tell Biden: reject carbon capture schemes and end fossil fuels now!

2. Factory Farm Gas Entrenches Polluting Factory Farms

Recently, the factory farm industry has turned to what it calls a “renewable” energy source: so-called “biogas.” This gas is derived from the waste of factory farms and turned into fuel. 

Corporations are heavily greenwashing it as a solution to the colossal amounts of toxic manure they produce. However, they wouldn’t have this massive waste problem if not for the cost-cutting, polluting manure “management” practices baked into the factory farm model. 

What’s more, this factory farm gas is mostly methane — just like fracked gas. It will run in the same leaky, dangerous pipeline system and have similar climate impacts — on top of the climate impacts of factory farms themselves.

Taxpayers are paying handsomely for these schemes. At the federal level, digester companies are getting tax credits and subsidies through laws like the Farm Bill and the Inflation Reduction Act

Meanwhile, state programs, like California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard, are also heaping taxpayer-funded incentives on factory farm gas projects. Food & Water Watch is working to fight these schemes, which promise no climate benefits but more pollution for frontline communities.

3. Hydrogen Hubs Promise Huge Build-Outs of Dirty Infrastructure

Hydrogen boosters are hyping up this “fuel of the future” while hiding a lot of downsides. It’s incredibly inefficient, comes with massive risks to public health and safety, and almost all of it comes from fracked gas. Turning hydrogen into energy may be emissions-free, but getting the hydrogen in the first place is overwhelmingly not.

If corporations get their way, hydrogen infrastructure, including pipelines, power plants, refineries, and more, will criss-cross our country — and taxpayers will foot the bill. 

Already, the Department of Energy is preparing to disburse $7 billion in taxpayer dollars to develop “hydrogen hubs.” State and local governments are preparing to spend even more to lure developers to set up shop. That’s why Food & Water Watch is working to stop these projects from ever breaking ground.

4. Corn Ethanol Encourages Climate-Ruining Industrial Farm Practices

Once upon a time, corn ethanol was hailed as a sustainable, renewable alternative to gasoline. The federal government has for years mandated that our gasoline supply incorporate a certain amount of ethanol. It also sends billions of taxpayer dollars a year to industrial corn farming. 

This has driven the growth of the ethanol industry and a glut of corn. Now, a full 45% of the country’s corn goes to ethanol. (Another 40% goes to feeding animals in the factory farm system, which means most of the corn grown today does not feed people.)

However, we’ve known for years that ethanol is not the green fuel the industry claimed it was. Accounting for all the emissions from industrial farming practices, corn ethanol is actually worse for the climate than gasoline. At the same time, the industry locks in the polluting industrial farming practices that are ruining our environment and our health.

Not Another Dime for Dirty Energy!

The fossil fuel industry already enjoys anywhere from $10 to $50 billion each year in subsidies. Meanwhile, our federal farm aid mainly benefits Big Ag corporations and their harmful industrial farming practices, not small family farms. 

As the urgency of the climate crisis becomes ever clearer, corporations are coming up with new ways to continue siphoning taxpayer dollars. They’re often doing this by touting greenwashed technologies that will both harm our climate and distract funds from the real solutions. But we can’t let them get away with it.

Lawmakers must end funding for climate scams and dirty energy. We know the path to a livable climate, and it doesn’t involve propping up corporate boondoggles.

Cut through corporate B.S. with the latest updates, news, and analysis from Food & Water Watch.

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