Amendment 58 in Colorado Seeks to End Subsidies for Big Oil

Amendment 58 in Colorado Seeks to End Subsidies for Big Oil
Photo: Scott Ingram, Creative Commons, Flickr

One of the more interesting state battles — from an oil industry standpoint — is happening in Colorado this election season.

There is quite a tussle over subsidies that Colorado has been paying to Big Oil companies and others in the oil and gas industry. For 30 years, Colorado has been offering preferential tax treatment to Big Oil (right now standing at $300 million) every year. But this year, the state is considering Amendment 58, a proposition that is up for popular vote. Naturally, oil and gas lobbies are spending millions of dollars to encourage voters to defeat the measure.

Colorado governor Bill Ritter offers this opinion of Big Oil subsidies in the Denver Post:

Amendment 58 will end an outdated and unnecessary subsidy that Colorado gives oil and gas companies and invest in the people of our state instead. Colorado is the only state that gives a $300 million tax credit to the oil and gas industry each year. Other industries in Colorado do not get a break like this one. That is not good or fair policy for economic development. Amendment 58 asks voters why — especially in these times — Colorado taxpayers should subsidize the richest industry in the world.

This is an interesting thought. Let the voters have some (albeit very limited) say in how their taxes are spent. Federal subsidies for profitable industries, including oil and gas, are increasingly coming under fire, especially in the current economic climate. The Colorado vote will be interesting, since it will be a sort of test as to how voters feel about ending taxpayer subsidies for Big Oil and for other industries that will likely continue to bring in profits, even without government help.

Disclosure: I do not invest in Big Oil. I do not believe that profitable companies should receive subsidies.

Site disclaimer.