Pennsylvania Fossil Fuel Subsidies: 

An Overview 


Christina Simeone, Director, PennFuture Energy Center


Pennsylvania taxpayers may not know they are subsidizing the production and use of fossil fuels. In fact,

Pennsylvania is subsidizing fossil fuels at a cost of almost $2.9 billion per year.1,2 Use of these fuels burdens

taxpayers with additional non-monetized externalities such as air, land and water pollution and the associated

negative human health and property impacts. Since many of these subsidies were passed years or decades ago,

Pennsylvania’s current policymakers may not all be aware that these subsidies exist or understand their cumulative


The federal government has long subsidized the production and use of fossil fuels to the tune of billions of

dollars per year, and to the considerable benefit of these extremely profitable and mature industries. Federal level

subsidies reduce the amount of taxable income that fossil fuel companies are required to report to Pennsylvania for

state taxes. Further, Pennsylvania tacks on additional subsidies such as tax breaks and grant programs that benefit

the use or production of fossil fuels. With respect to energy, there is no free and competitive market, least of all in


The state’s fossil fuel subsidies come primarily in the form of tax exemptions, with only a handful of applicable tax

credits and grant programs. There are exemptions for the use of fossil fuels, such as exempting gasoline purchase

from Sales and Use Tax, which make these fuels more attractive by lowering their costs to the consumer. There are

also exemptions that benefit distributors of fossil fuels, such as exempting natural gas sales from the Gross Receipts

Tax, thereby reducing the tax burden on distribution companies, and increasing their profitability. Producers of

fossil fuels also enjoy subsidies, like the Sales and Use Tax exemption for the purchase of mining equipment,

which reduces costs to coal mining companies and increasing profitability. Ironically, Pennsylvania subsidizes the

purchase of pollution control equipment to help users of fossil fuels pay for the cost of cleaning the air and water

fouled by these very fossil fuels.

This preliminary overview of Pennsylvania’s fossil fuel subsidies is intended to promote discussion and perhaps

even a reexamination of Pennsylvania’s overall incentive strategy with respect to energy. This report should be

read as an introduction to the issue of Pennsylvania’s fossil fuel subsidies; additional research and analysis is



CitizenGuide_Act13_2012.pdf (application/pdf Object).

Citizens’ Guide to PA Act 13.

On February 7, 2012, the Pennsylvania General Assembly enacted comprehensive amendments to Pennsylvania laws regulating the oil and gas industry in response to the rapid growth of the Marcellus shale industry.
This guide provides an easy-to-understand explanation of the major provisions of that new law. The guide was created to inform and educate citizens, municipal leaders, media, and others about the details and expected impact of the new law. The guide is deliberately written to be as accessible as possible to all, primarily presented in a question and answer format. The questions are organized by topics and the numbers at the end of each answer refer to the Section numbers of Act 13.
PennFuture’s legal staff, led by President and CEO George Jugovic Jr, Law Staff Chair Brian Glass, and Staff Attorney Mark Szybist, are the primary authors of this guide. The guide would not have been possible without the volunteer research assistance of Attorney Renee E. Della Fave.