Don’t bail out fossil fuel companies, Democrat lawmakers insist

The US already agreed to use US$2 trillion to support those economic sectors and workers most affected by the coronavirus lockdown. But how should that money be used? Not on fossil fuels, at least according to these Democrats.

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A group of more than 40 Democratic lawmakers argue that fossil fuel companies should not be able to receive any assistance from the aid package recently passed by Congress. The aid is intended to support “struggling families, workers, businesses, states, and municipalities.”

“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 a letter.

Global markets have taken a large plunge amid the coronavirus, including the price of oil, reaching record lows. Nevertheless, democrats argued fossil fuel firms shouldn’t receive any assistance. The Trump administration had also tried to secure a US$3 million package just for the sector.

“We call on you to ignore the pleas of big oil lobbyists, put consideration of this corporate bailout aside, and instead focus on supporting the workers and small businesses who truly need assistance due to the coronavirus public health emergency,” they added.

The American Petroleum Institute (API), a lobby group that represents oil companies, replied to the claim by the Democrats, saying they are not interested in the money.

Nevertheless, they rejected the letter, claiming it’s “harmful” to workers and “opportunistic — asking the Trump administration to dismiss the claim.

Back in the 2008 economic crisis, former US President Barack Obama passed a stimulus package with the aim of moving forward with clean energy. Nevertheless, on this new package, renewable energy advocates have struggled to be included.

In a joint letter, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) asked members of Congress to extend their credits so as to “allow our member companies to hire thousands of additional workers and inject billions in the U.S. economy.”

Without further help, SEIA estimates the solar industry could see as much as 50% of residential solar jobs lost this year due to the pandemic. At the same time, AWEA estimates $43 billion dollars of investments and payments, mostly in the rural communities, is at risk.

Environmental and climate activists are asking all governments to focus the COVID-19 economic stimulus in zero-emissions sectors such as renewable energy and electric transportation, which can actually create millions of jobs and help the transition from polluting industries.

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