Congress Has a Deal, Now It Must Keep Stimulus Dollars Away From Oil Executives

by Ryan Schleeter

March 27, 2020

While we are glad to see a package that provides some immediate relief for those who need it most in this pandemic, we must remain vigilant that not a single cent of our tax dollars goes toward bailing out the oil and gas executives profiting from climate destruction.

Washington, DC — Today, Congress passed a tensely-negotiated $2 trillion stimulus package responding to the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic. After pressure from activists and hundreds of progressive organizations, the bill does not include any direct financial support to fossil fuel companies. It does, however, leave a wide loophole for companies to apply for taxpayer-funded assistance through a $500 billion fund to be allocated at Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s discretion [1]. Furthermore, nurses and healthcare workers still do not have the personal protective equipment they need and Donald Trump has failed to use the Defense Production Act to manufacture life-saving equipment [2].

The bill is expected to be signed by Trump later today.

In response, Greenpeace USA Climate Campaign Director Janet Redman said: 

“Fracking billionaires and coal companies who were struggling financially well before this crisis are already clamoring to Trump for handouts. Congress had a chance to shut the door in their faces and they missed it. While we are glad to see a package that provides some immediate relief for those who need it most in this pandemic, we must remain vigilant that not a single cent of our tax dollars goes toward bailing out the oil and gas executives profiting from climate destruction.

“The path elected officials take in response to this crisis will shape the future for millions of people. Faced with the choice between spending the next few years bailing out fossil fuel corporations or delivering a Green New Deal, we know what needs to happen next. Now is the time to invest in stimulus measures that create millions of family-sustaining, union jobs in renewable energy and climate protection. Returning to the status quo is not enough for those on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic or the climate emergency. If we get it right, we can pull ourselves out of two crises at once.”

Lawmakers are also expected to begin negotiations on a “phase four” stimulus package in April, which could include additional Green New Deal-style investments in renewable energy job creation, low-carbon public transportation, energy-efficient and affordable housing, and a just transition away from fossil fuels.

The oil industry is hard at work exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic for financial gain. Just yesterday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) indefinitely suspended enforcement of some environmental health standards at the direct request of the American Petroleum Institute [3].

ENDS

Notes:

[1] The $500 billion fund will be managed by Secretary Mnuchin with input from a Congressional Oversight Panel. The oversight panel will consist of five members, one each appointed by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, and one jointly appointed by Pelosi and McConnell. The panel will not have veto authority over Mnuchin’s decisions, but will report to Congress every 30 days.

[2] https://www.nationalnursesunited.org/press/nations-nurses-united-condemns-congressional-inaction-protecting-nurses-other-health-care

[3] https://www.greenpeace.org/usa/news/epa-indefinitely-suspends-environmental-enforcement-at-the-oil-industrys-request/

Contact: Ryan Schleeter, Senior Communications Specialist, Greenpeace USA: +1 (415) 342-2386, [email protected]

Ryan Schleeter

By Ryan Schleeter

Ryan Schleeter is a senior communications specialist with Greenpeace USA covering climate and energy. His writing has appeared in National Geographic, Grist, GreenBiz, EcoWatch, and more. Find him on Twitter @ryschlee.

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