Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin asking him to ensure that U.S. oil and gas companies can get federal loans provided for businesses in the coronavirus stimulus package. 

“There is no question that one of the hardest hit industries — and one of the most critical to Alaska — is the oil and gas sector,” Murkowski wrote in a letter shared Thursday. “Producing companies and the businesses that contract with them are being impacted not only by the market demand shock from the coronavirus, but also the Russia-Saudi Arabia power struggle against American energy.”

Murkowski’s request gets at exactly what some Democrats feared: that oil companies might benefit from the stimulus package.

Democrats had penned various letters expressing their opposition to any oil industry bailouts, including buying fuel from oil companies, arguing a public health crisis shouldn’t be used to contribute to climate change.

The bill ultimately excluded the $3 billion the Trump administration had requested to fund the purchase of 77 million barrels of oil needed to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. 

While other funds could be up for grabs, Mnuchin said he had “very limited ability to do direct loans out of the Treasury,” he told reporters at a White House press briefing Thursday.

He said they will work with the Federal Reserve to offer broad-based lending facilities.

“Our expectation is the energy companies, like all our other companies, will be able to participate in broad-based facilities, whether it’s the corporate facility or whether it’s the Main Street facility,” he said.

Tags Lisa Murkowski Steven Mnuchin
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