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For Immediate Release, May 20, 2020

Contact:  Brett Hartl, (202) 774-7296, bretthartl@centeractionfund.org  

Biden Urged to Develop Plan to Undo Trump’s Big Oil Bailout

Fossil Fuel Companies Could Get Billions in Pandemic Relief With No Accountability

WASHINGTON— Twenty-one environmental, climate and social justice groups sent a letter today asking Joe Biden’s presidential campaign to create a plan for undoing the massive fossil fuel industry bailout enabled by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act).

The CARES Act provided more than $450 billion in condition-free assistance for “distressed sectors” of the economy, and the Treasury Department can allocate those funds in almost any way it sees fit. Separately, while the Paycheck Protection Program provides loans and grants to small businesses to cover payroll expenses, that program has been abused by fossil fuel companies and other large corporations.

Today’s letter asks Vice President Biden to scrutinize every loan authorized by Secretary Mnuchin and the Federal Reserve to any fossil fuel company. The letter urges Biden to pledge to prohibit companies that abuse these funds or misstate facts in loan application from receiving any future leases on public lands and waters. Such companies should also be barred from any government contracts, loans or other forms of financial or tax-related support approved by the federal government, the letter says.

“Joe Biden should tell Americans how he’d clean up the massive mess being created by the Trump administration’s disastrous bailout of the fossil fuel industry,” said Brett Hartl, chief political strategist at the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund. “As we scramble to avoid a climate catastrophe, a Biden administration will have to scrutinize where every bailout dollar went and address the previous president’s handouts to corporate polluters.”

The letter also requests that the Biden administration review the behavior of companies that receive loans, including whether they comply with all environmental safeguards during the pandemic, provided workers full sick and paid leave, provided full protective equipment to essential workers to keep them safe, and did not take punitive action against vulnerable workers or workers attempting to form unions.

If any fossil fuel companies violated any law while relying on public funding, the letter asks the Biden administration to prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.

“An unchecked bailout of Big Oil would have disastrous consequences for the climate agenda of a Biden administration,” said Collin Rees, senior campaigner with Oil Change U.S. “VP Biden’s recent rejection of the Keystone XL pipeline was a clear display of real climate leadership and his willingness to side with people, not polluters. We look forward to working with him to confront fossil fuel bailouts and ensure COVID-19 relief is directed the frontline workers and communities most in need.”

The Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund is a national nonprofit organization that advocates for legislation and legislators that will advance a progressive environmental agenda. The Action Fund is the 501(c)(4) affiliate of the Center for Biological Diversity, but these organizations’ names are not interchangeable. This news release is from the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund, not the Center for Biological Diversity.