We're talking about the word subsidies. Something the President says the oil industry is getting far too many of, but one local expert says that's completely misleading.
During a speech at Nashua Community College last week, the President stated, "Right now, $4 billion of your tax dollars--$4 billion-- subsidizes the oil industry every year. "
"That $4 billion has been given for decades and has probably changed as far as what it's covered, but they are incentives," says local energy consultant Richard Erdlac says,
The key word is incentives. Not subsidies. According to the dictionary, they are two very different things.
"Incentive..the synonyms that were used (are) to boost, to spur, to stimulate. Where as with a subsidy, it was entitlement or grant.," says Erdlac.
According to Erdlac, that $4 billion is used as an incentive scattered across the industry. It's meant for things companies might have to cut otherwise like research and development, new technology or discovery.
An example is what happened in the Gulf of Mexico several years ago. "There were incentives for the industry to go out and drill more in the Gulf of Mexico. Production was decreasing. So that was incentive," says Erdlac.
So when the President makes comments like this, "You can stand with the oil companies, or you can stand up for the American people. You can keep subsidizing fossil fuel that's been getting taxpayers dollars for a century, or you can place your bets on a clean-energy future. "
Erdlac responds with this, "The taxpayers have not given the oil and gas industry anything. The industry has given a lot to the taxpayers in the form of lifestyle that they enjoy, the technology that is enjoyed, the fact that there is energy when we need it. "
At the end of the day, whether it's a subsidy or an incentive, experts say taking that money away would be devasting to the industry that uses that money to explore and develop new technology.