Warren says oil industry should not receive coronavirus 'bailout'

Warren says oil industry should not receive coronavirus 'bailout'
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Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenLongtime Democratic pollster: Warren 'obvious solution' for Biden's VP pick The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - US virus deaths exceed 100,000; Pelosi pulls FISA bill Warren's VP bid faces obstacle: Her state's Republican governor MORE (D-Mass.) is pressuring the Treasury Department to nix consideration of any aid to the oil and gas industry as lawmakers set aside funds to battle economic impacts of the coronavirus.

“These companies have contributed to the deterioration of the environment through their emissions, and their lobbying and political expenditure efforts have undermined efforts to identify and address the risks of the climate crisis,” Warren wrote to Treasury Secretary Steven MnuchinSteven Terner MnuchinThe Hill's Coronavirus Report: National Portrait Gallery's Kim Sajet says this era rewiring people's relationship with culture, art; Trump's war with Twitter heats up How lawmaker ties helped shape Fed chairman's COVID-19 response Business groups throw support behind House Democrat's bill to provide pandemic risk insurance MORE

“The fossil fuel industry already receives billions of dollars in taxpayer subsidies annually. These companies do not deserve special access to taxpayer-financed bailout funds at a time when millions of Americans are struggling to make ends meet,” she added.

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Warren’s letter comes as the Federal Reserve Board expanded the Main Street Lending Program to open the funding to smaller oil companies shortly after receiving requests for such actions from Sen. Ted CruzRafael (Ted) Edward CruzOvernight Defense: Trump ends sanctions waivers for Iran nuclear projects | Top Dems says State working on new Saudi arms sale | 34-year-old Army reservist ID'd as third military COVID-19 death Trump administration ends waivers in Obama-era nuclear deal with Iran Romney defends Joe Scarborough, staffer's widower: 'Enough already' MORE (R-Texas) and an industry group for small and mid-sized oil producers. 

The Treasury Department did not immediately return a request for comment.

Warren is just the latest in a string of Democrats who have pressured the department to keep coronavirus stimulus funds from oil companies.

“Giving that money to the fossil fuel industry will do nothing to stop the spread of the deadly virus or provide relief to those in need. It will only artificially inflate the fossil fuel industry’s balance sheets,” lawmakers wrote in an April letter spearheaded by Sen. Ed MarkeyEdward (Ed) John MarkeyOVERNIGHT ENERGY: New documents show EPA rolled back mileage standards despite staff, WH concerns | Land management bureau grants 75 royalty rate cuts for oil and gas | EPA employees allege leadership interference with science in watchdog survey EPA's Wheeler grilled by Democrats over environmental rollbacks amid COVID-19 Markey says EPA administrator should apologize to minorities for coronavirus response MORE (D-Mass.) and Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.) and signed by more than 40 others. 

But the department has been under tremendous pressure from the president and Republicans to do more to save the industry after an uptick in production before global stay-at-home orders sent prices plummeting.

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What that assistance might be remains unclear.

“Well we're not gonna let our oil companies go and get in trouble. It's not their fault that they got hit by 50 percent less volume in one day,” President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump marks 'very sad milestone' of 100K coronavirus deaths DOJ: George Floyd death investigation a 'top priority' Lifting our voices — and votes MORE said last week speaking alongside Mnuchin.

"I think the oil industry is one of the top on the list,” he said, prompting the Treasury secretary for more details.

The administration has tried to buy oil to fill the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, but it has been blocked by Democrats, who have rebuffed efforts to include the $3 billion in funding needed to do so. 

“We're looking at a lot of different strategies, Mnuchin said last week. “I've said before, this is not going to be a bailout of shareholders, but this is going to be supporting the national security issue. ... We're also exploring potentially having the ability to store another several hundred million barrels.”