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Since the beginning of the pandemic, most Americans have received a single check for $1,200. However, fossil fuel companies are not most Americans. The US government spent big — $15 billion dollars big — to help the companies responsible for the climate crisis. According to a new analysis by BailoutWatch, Public Citizen, and Friends of the Earth, the fossil fuel industry received as much as $15.2 billion in direct pandemic relief. When they included indirect benefits, like bonds, the grand total was $110 billion.
Why This Matters: As Oxfam put it, we should bail out people not oil and gas companies. Government dollars should be invested in moving clean energy projects forward, not propping up the polluting industries wrecking the planet. And at a time when unemployment is skyrocketing and people are risking their health going to work, it’s unacceptable that the government spent so much money on industries that harm our health.
This year’s devastating wildfires, hurricanes, and droughts were made more intense by the same companies the Trump administration is now bailing out.
“The Trump Administration has wasted billions of dollars keeping the fossil fuel industry alive,” said Lukas Ross, Program Manager at Friends of the Earth. “President-elect Biden must ensure that people, not polluters, benefit from COVID relief. It’s time to cut dirty energy’s lifeline.”
More Fossil Fuel Funding Numbers:
Normally, oil and gas companies pay a fee to drill on public land. The government waived those fees for at least 229 companies. The report estimates that equals $4.5 million in lost revenue, likely far more.
Fossil fuel firms, who took an estimated $4-9 billion in Paycheck Protection Program, tended to receive more money and keep fewer people employed — the stated purpose of the “small business” loans.
Marathon Petroleum alone received $1.2 billion. It specifically lobbied for tax provisions in the CARES Act that would benefit its own bottom line.
Just five fossil fuel companies (Diamondback Energy, EOG Resources, Marathon Petroleum, Phillips 66, and Valero) received 56% of the tax refunds totaling $3.1 billion available to large, publicly-traded companies.
To quote the report: “By directing aid to companies whose problems long predated the pandemic, the government has artificially prolonged the industry’s decline and postponed the coming transition to clean energy sources.”
Wind power has overtaken coal as a proportion of Texas’s power for the first time and promises to continue growing. In 2020, wind power made up almost a quarter of Texas’s total power, compared to just 18% from coal.
Why This Matters: Texas is the nation’s largest producer of both wind energy and fossil fuel energy.
The sale of oil and gas drilling rights in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR) was supposed to bring in upwards of $1 billion, but in the end, the first of the auctions mandated by Congress at the urging of President Trump brought in only $14M.
Why This Matters: Banks won’t underwrite Arctic drilling, so it is unclear those ANWR leases will be drilled ever.
When 2020 began, even with oil prices relatively strong, many industry analysts were predicting it was the beginning of the end for oil and gas. And then the pandemic hit and the Saudis and Russians decided to take advantage of the downturn. With supplies still high and demand declining, the industry may never be the same again.
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