Trump Opens Backdoor for Big Oil and Coal Bailout

Tweet Foreshadows Next Move; Plans to Ignore Congressional Oversight

Big oil and coal corporations continued their pity-party this week after Congressional Democrats blocked efforts to earmark specific taxpayer-funded carve-outs for extractive industries in the CARES Act. President Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell left plenty of loopholes and backdoors open for big oil and coal corporations to cash in on billions of tax dollars.

“President Trump and Senate Majority Leader McConnell both know who butters their bread – big oil and coal corporations. Between the legislative loopholes and backdoors to former lobbyists buried in the Trump administration, extractive corporations are set to cash in on billions in taxpayer-fund bailouts,” said Western Values Project Director Jayson O’Neill. “It’s quite astounding that these corporations and lobbyists, despite the sectors own self-inflicted financial instability, are having a pity-party during a global pandemic because Congress didn’t carveout specific earmarks for them in the legislation.” 

Big oil and coal corporations could already cash in on billions in bailout dollars:

In a statement released after signing the $2.2 trillion dollar relief package, President Trump said that he would not comply with oversight requirements that are part of the $500 billion ‘slush fund’ because the administration claims it raises ‘constitutional concerns’ – opening the door for billions of tax dollars to flow to the same corporations and CEOs that have fueled his campaign. President Trump and his administration have shown little interest in adhering to the U.S. Constitution when it comes to other provisions.

Last week, Trump’s tweet may have signaled that the administration would classify fossil fuel and natural resource development under the national security loophole in the legislation. Trump’s tweet claimed that the oil and gas industry was under siege. But analysis shows that the industry was in trouble long before the economic slowdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

Other Trump administration actions that could bail out big oil and coal:

The legality and disclosure of lessee royalty rate reductions by the Interior Secretary Bernhardt is still uncertain but calls for unilateral action by the Secretary keep pouring in from members of Congress. It is expected that Bernhardt will follow in the EPA’s footsteps by waiving environmental reviews, limiting oversight and compliance, and fast-tracking permit applications. Bernhardt has already attempted to limit and scrap National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) reviews and is one of the architects of the proposed rollbacks to America’s bedrock environmental law.

Under already grossly outdated royalty rates, taxpayers have lost $12.4 billion in revenue from oil and gas drilling on federal lands over the last decade. Revenue from drilling on these leases has instead gone into the pockets of the oil and gas corporations. Prior to the crisis, Senator Udall (D-NM) and Senator Grassley (R-IA) introduced the bipartisan Fair Returns for Public Lands Act of 2020 to reform federal onshore oil and gas fiscal rates.

“Big oil and coal corporations already receive billions in taxpayer subsidies. Congress must consider the health and well-being of the American people – not to mention a sound investment and fair return for taxpayers – before doling out another bailout to big oil and coal corporations,” said O’Neill.

America’s outdoor recreation industry, also reeling from the impacts of the pandemic, contributes more to the U.S. economy than mining, oil, and gas combined and directly supports 7.6 million American jobs. The American Petroleum Institute is also petitioning state governors for concessions.

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