Big Oil has propped up the Trump administration to the tune of nearly $9 million in donations and now they want a return on their investment. How big and how many environmental rollbacks will be done to shore up the financially unsustainable industry remains a question.
“Weeks ago, while the Trump administration was downplaying the threat of the coronavirus pandemic, Big Oil was lining up at the taxpayer trough for another big bailout. Instead of focusing on the public’s health and well-being, the Trump administration and Interior Secretary Bernhardt, a former mega-lobbyist for extractive corporations, were scheming to ensure their Big Oil pals were teed up for a bailout,” said Western Values Project Director Jayson O’Neill. “This crisis epitomizes Trump and Bernhardt’s values: corporations before the American people. Congress should reject bailouts for Big Oil or taxpayers are going to get fleeced again.”
One of the most concerning proposals that unsustainable extractive corporations would be eligible for is a $500 billion ‘corporate slush fund’ that the Trump administration is advocating Congress include in the bailout package. As Congress hammers out the details, the slush fund has rightfully been a major sticking point for Congressional Democrats because the proposal included no oversight and would forbid disclosure of bailout information for up to six months.
As reported in Politico, President Trump has already raked in some $1.8 million in campaign contributions from Big Oil for his reelection campaign and the industry donated over $6.9 million to his inauguration fund. Trump has at least $9 million reasons to support a Big Oil bailout.
A recent analysis by Friends of the Earth highlighted the financial instability of the oil and gas fracking industry long before this crisis materialized. The analysis found that the industry has over $26 billion in total current liabilities due in 2020 and 27 major fracking corporations began the year “in the red” with negative free cash flow. Any taxpayer-funded bailout to the industry would require strong assurances given their financial state.
In addition to the corporate slush fund, Big Oil is making an administration-wide push to roll back environmental regulations and government oversight. Just this week, the President and CEO of the American Petroleum Institute (API) sent a letter to President Trump and accompanying letters to cabinet members seeking major concessions.
Early indications show that the oil and gas lease sales held today in Montana, Wyoming, and Nevada were a complete flop. Another oil and gas lease sale is scheduled in Colorado for Thursday.