Allocation of subsidies in the United States
A 2011 study by the consulting firm Management Information Services, Inc. (MISI) estimated the total historical federal subsidies for various energy sources over the years 1950–2010. The study found that oil, natural gas, and coal received $369 billion, $121 billion, and $104 billion (2010 dollars), respectively, or 70% of total energy subsidies over that period. Oil, natural gas, and coal benefitted most from percentage depletion allowances and other tax-based subsidies, but oil also benefitted heavily from regulatory subsidies such as exemptions from price controls and higher-than-average rates of return allowed on oil pipelines. The MISI report found that non-hydro renewable energy (primarily wind and solar) benefitted from $74 billion in federal subsidies, or 9% of the total, largely in the form of tax policy and direct federal expenditures on research and development (R&D). Nuclear power benefitted from $73 billion in federal subsidies, 9% of the total, largely in the form of R&D, while hydro power received $90 billion in federal subsidies, 12% of the total.
A 2009 study by the Environmental Law Institute assessed the size and structure of U.S. energy subsidies over the 2002–2008 period. The study estimated that subsidies to fossil-fuel based sources amounted to approximately $72 billion over this period and subsidies to renewable fuel sources totaled $29 billion. The study did not assess subsidies supporting nuclear energy.
The three largest fossil fuel subsidies were:
Foreign tax credit ($15.3 billion)
Credit for production of non-conventional fuels ($14.1 billion)
Oil and Gas exploration and development expensing ($7.1 billion)
The three largest renewable fuel subsidies were:
Alcohol Credit for Fuel Excise Tax ($11.6 billion)
Renewable Electricity Production Credit ($5.2 billion)
Corn-Based Ethanol ($5.0 billion)