Trump Considers Paying Oil Companies to Keep It in the Ground

by Ryan Schleeter

April 16, 2020

Trump is putting oil companies on life support while those same companies’ workers suffer in a pandemic.

Washington, DC — The US Department of Energy is reportedly considering paying oil producers to keep as much as 365 million barrels of oil in the ground [1]. At current market prices ($20.15 per barrel), that could cost $7.3 billion in taxpayer funds.

In response, Greenpeace USA Senior Climate Campaigner John Noël said:

“Trump is putting oil companies on life support while those same companies’ workers suffer in a pandemic. We’re all for keeping oil in the ground, but not for using taxpayer dollars to enrich CEOs and shareholders at the expense of workers. The next administration should not only make this policy permanent, it should ensure any money spent on the transition away from oil production goes directly to workers and communities in the form of wages, benefits, and pension guarantees.

“With oil prices at a historic low, the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy is inevitable. Justice for workers and communities is not, especially if this transition is left to fossil fuel corporations. We need only look to the coal industry — where bankrupt companies dole out million-dollar bonuses to CEOs while slashing their workers’ pensions and health benefits — to see that fossil fuel executives do not have workers’ interests at heart. We cannot allow Trump to sign away billions of taxpayer dollars to the architects of the climate crisis with no strings attached.”

A similar proposal to spend $3 billion to purchase oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR) was stricken from the CARES Act stimulus package following opposition from activists and progressive lawmakers. The Department of Energy has not yet announced how companies would qualify to receive payments, nor has it specified which companies may be eligible to lease space in the SPR [2].

Proven crude oil reserves in the United States were 43.8 billion barrels at the end of 2018 [3]. At current market prices ($20.15 per barrel), it would cost the government roughly $882 billion to purchase those reserves and begin a managed decline of the oil industry.

ENDS

Notes:

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-15/u-s-weighs-paying-drillers-to-leave-oil-in-the-ground-amid-glut

[2] https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-04-14/trump-negotiating-to-lease-oil-storage-space-to-nine-companies

[3] https://www.eia.gov/naturalgas/crudeoilreserves/

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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