House Democrats warn against oil industry bailout

House Democrats warn against oil industry bailout
© Greg Nash

A growing number of Democrats are voicing concern that the White House may pursue broad relief for the oil and gas industry amid sinking prices and the coronavirus pandemic.

Twenty House Democrats sent a letter to President TrumpDonald John TrumpJustice says it will recommend Trump veto FISA bill Fauci: Nominating conventions may be able to go on as planned Poll: Biden leads Trump by 11 points nationally MORE on Tuesday cautioning against dolling out further funds to the fossil fuel industry after the White House announced late last week that the government would purchase oil to shore up the industry.

“Diverting public funds to bail out this industry will do nothing to stop the spread of this deadly virus or provide relief to those in need,” lawmakers wrote in a letter spearheaded by Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.). “A bailout tells the American public that fossil fuel investors can rely on U.S. taxpayers to cover their bills when the industry’s corporate executives’ risky investments don’t pan out.”

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On Friday, Trump announced that the U.S. would buy as much as 77 million barrels of oil to help the industry as prices slump amid an ongoing trade dispute between Russia and Saudi Arabia as well as the coronavirus.

Those barrels would be held in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a move that would cost taxpayers more than $2.5 billion.

Senate Democrats have already decried such assistance, while large oil companies have previously said they are not interested in any financial assistance.

Democrats worry the public health crisis surrounding coronavirus will lead to the government propping up the oil industry and handicapping efforts to combat climate change.

“Using this public health crisis as an excuse for another giveaway to the fossil fuel industry is badly misguided. It would only worsen the climate crisis,” the lawmakers wrote. “A corporate bailout for oil and gas industry is not the answer to either crisis.”