Liberals target 'absurd' tax breaks for fossil fuels

Two liberal lawmakers are marking Earth Day by calling for an end to tax breaks for the fossil fuel industry.

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersHarvard law professor: Impeachment could worsen political dysfunction, polarization Gun control debate shifts to hardening schools after Texas shooting Bernie Sanders: NRA to blame for lack of action on gun control MORE (I-Vt.) and Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) on Wednesday introduced legislation that would end tax preferences for oil, natural gas and coal companies. They say their bills could save $135 billion over 10 years.

"At a time when scientists tell us we need to reduce carbon pollution to prevent catastrophic climate change, it is absurd to provide massive taxpayer subsidies that pad fossil-fuel companies’ already enormous profits," Sanders said in a statement.

Ellison said the companies "don't need any more tax giveaways."

The bill would also encourage government research into clean energy and update royalty rates for oil drilling in public waters and on federal land. The Obama administration announced last week that it was considering raising the royalty rates on federal lands, something the oil industry opposes.

Ending tax breaks for fossil fuel companies is a common proposal from liberals and environment-friendly lawmakers. Republicans oppose the idea, arguing the industry already faces a heavy tax burden.