Resolved: The United States ought to eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels.

Resolved: The United States ought to eliminate subsidies for fossil fuels.

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When did LD become PF? I don’t understand why we keep seeing these types of topics. LD used to be high level debate about moral principles and big questions, but we’re going more and more towards these garbage topics about public policy. Hopefully there’s a shift back the other way because I don’t know if I’ll want to do this much longer if it keeps going in this direction. Anyway, let’s get to it.


subsidies for fossil fuels – This is really the only thing that needs to be defined in this resolution. Subsidies are basically some form of governmental incentive or tax break. In the case of the fossil fuel industry, there are a number of different types of subsidies that the U.S. provides. It’s important to note that the specific type of subsidy should not matter to your case. You should be debating the principle of the matter. Here’s a good place to find more information.

Case Positions

Remember here that your case will need to answer the question of how we determine what the United States government ought to do.


  1. Progress – A government’s first goal ought to be to promote societal progress – moral, economic, and otherwise. Civilizations perish because they are drowned by the tides of time. In order to progress as a society, the U.S. must get away from fossil fuels. They are a perishable resource, and eventually they will be too scarce to be reliable. Imperial conquering of resource rich lands will not be feasible in the future, and so subsidies need to be eliminated to direct society away from fossil fuel development into alternative renewable energy.
  2. Utilitarianism – As much as I dislike basic utilitarian position, this resolution provides a lot of room for a utilitarian calculus. A simple cost benefit shows that the U.S. is spending money on subsidies for dying industries that would be better spent elsewhere. Plus, it would be better for everyone due to the economic benefits of investing in clean energy.
  3. Survival – It times of great crisis, it can be argued that all governmental priorities should be directed toward survival. The realities of climate change create such a crisis. As such, the U.S., and all governments, should act in such a way to mitigate climate change and ensure the survival of the human race. Therefore, all subsidies for fossil fuels should be terminated.


  1. Moral Conflict – Nietzsche argued that the only way to determine the true morality or proper moral outcome was to let all ideologies compete openly, almost like a free market but for ideas. Fossil fuels and clean energy should be the same. We should continue subsidies for fossil fuels while also giving subsidies for clean energy. Let the industries compete, and survival of the fittest will dictate which one wins.
  2. Utilitarianism – There is a utilitarian argument to be made on the negative as well. It can be argued that ending these subsidies would have devastating economic consequences. While we might be moving toward clean energy, we’re certainly not there yet, and the U.S. economy continues to be largely dependent on fossil fuels. As such, it would be far more harmful to end the subsidies than to continue them.
  3. Lack of Timeline Kritik – It can be argued that the resolution is impossible to debate without a timeline attached to it. When should we end the fossil fuel subsidies? How long should we take to phase them out? A proper consequentialist analysis cannot be complete without a timeline because the short term, medium term, and long term consequences are completely different. After the critique, you can present a time-based counter-advocacy.

I hope that helps get you started. I’m sorry you have to debate this garbage topic, but good luck! And don’t forget to visit the Debate Academy if you’re looking for private coaching.