President Trump and Some Democrats In Congress Want To Bail Out the Oil Industry

Gina-Marie Cheeseman

The Trump administration and some Democrats in Big Oil states want to bail out an industry that has spilled thousands of barrels of oil and amassed a breathtaking fortune from extraction. As we slowly recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, we have an opportunity to push for a new energy economy, not prop up Big Oil

A bailout for the beleaguered oil industry might be on the horizon. President Trump tweeted on April 21: “We will never let the great U.S. Oil & Gas Industry down. I have instructed the Secretary of Energy and Secretary of the Treasury to formulate a plan which will make funds available so that these very important companies and jobs will be secured long into the future!”

The call to bail out the oil industry will likely ramp up. On April 27, the crude oil prices fell by over 20 percent, and an oil company, Diamond Offshore declared bankruptcy. The U.S. oil industry is hard-pressed to find places to store oil. The Trump administration is considering creating a federal lending program for oil companies, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin recently stated. The Washington Post called that an “extreme step to try to limit more economic damage.”

Some Congressional Democrats support a bailout

Some Congressional Democrats support bailing out oil companies. One of those Democrats is Rep. Lizzie Fletcher (Texas) who recently announced that she would “file bipartisan, bicameral legislation to appropriate funds to make a Strategic Petroleum Reserve oil purchase, and I urge my colleagues to take it up immediately.” Fletcher introduced the legislation a day after making the announcement.

In early April, Fletcher signed a letter by a group of House democrats calling for Strategic Petroleum Reserve funds to be included in another coronavirus relief bill. She was the lone Democrat to sign a letter from Rep. Dan Crenshaw (R-Texas) that asked the Interior Department to temporarily reduce or eliminate royalties for leases in the Gulf of Mexico. Fletcher, a first-term House representative, serves on the Science Subcommittee on Energy.

Fletcher is in the back pocket of oil and gas companies. She received $126,917 from the oil and gas industry during the 2019-20 election cycle. That makes her number two among Democrats who received money from the oil and gas industry. She received $80,381 from the industry during the 2018 election. Political Action Committees associated with oil companies donated to Fletcher, including $10,000 from Phillips 66, $5,000 from ExxonMobil, and $4,000 from Chevron.

Fletcher’s unabashed support of the oil industry contradicts her party’s stance on climate change. The Democratic Party platform states that “Democrats believe that climate change poses a real and urgent threat to our economy, our national security, and our children’s health and futures and that Americans deserve the jobs and security that come from becoming the clean energy superpower of the 21st century.”

Oil corporations asking for bailouts are responsible for oil spills

Some of the oil corporations with their hands out to the federal government are responsible for spilling almost 10,000 barrels of oil and petroleum byproducts across the Western U.S. Western Values Project found that each one of the oil companies Trump met with in early April had major environmental violations. ExxonMobil and Chevron are two of those companies. ExxonMobil spilled 36.9 barrels of oil in Wyoming in 2012 and two years later, spilled 75 gallons more in Wyoming. Chevron has had 160 different oil spills in Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. In one incident, Chevron spilled 12 barrels of oil into the ground at Wild Cat Canyon in Wyoming in 2010. The company spilled 1,154 barrels of oil in 38 different incidents in New Mexico since 2015.

Other companies have spilled plenty of oil in New Mexico and Wyoming. Occidental Petroleum has had 28 different oil spills in Wyoming and New Mexico. In New Mexico alone, the company has had 27 separate incidents of crude oil spills since January 15, totaling 195 barrels of oil. Phillips 66 has spilled gasoline and diesel throughout Wyoming and has spilled 338 barrels of crude oil in New Mexico. In one incident, the company spilled 200 barrels of diesel in Wyoming. Continental Resources spilled 367 barrels of oil in Wyoming in three different incidents in 2011 while Devon Energy spilled 629 barrels of oil in 19 separate incidents in Wyoming in 2010.

Wanting to bail out the oil industry which has spilled so much oil in western states is a “new low” for Trump, according to Western Values Project Director Jayson O’Neill.

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