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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 WarrenDebate over ICBMs: Will 'defund our defenses' be next? Manchin on collision course with Warren, Sanders Hillicon Valley: Broadband companies funded fake net neutrality comments, investigation finds | Twitter rolls out tip feature | Google to adopt 'hybrid work week' 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 MnuchinDemocrats justified in filibustering GOP, says Schumer Yellen provides signature for paper currency Biden's name will not appear on stimulus checks, White House says 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 CruzCheney drama exposes GOP's Trump rifts Pollster Frank Luntz: 'I would bet on' Trump being 2024 GOP nominee Tim Scott sparks buzz in crowded field of White House hopefuls 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 MarkeyEd MarkeyCivilian Climate Corps can help stem rural-urban divide Senate votes to nix Trump rule limiting methane regulation Senate Democrats push Biden over raising refugee cap 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 TrumpDemocrats, activists blast reported Trump DOJ effort to get journalists' phone records Arizona secretary of state gets security detail over death threats surrounding election audit Trump admin got phone records of WaPo reporters covering Russia probe: report 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.”