Washington, D.C. — Stop the Money Pipeline, a coalition of over 90 organizations working to end the financing of climate destruction, are warning that an upcoming visit of oil CEOs to the White House on Friday cannot lead to a public bailout of the fossil fuel industry.
See quote sheet below.
Republican senators are also lobbying for direct aid to the oil and gas industry. A group of senators issued a letter earlier this week asking the Trump administration to exempt oil and gas companies from paying royalties during the pandemic (even though everyday Americans have to continue to pay their rent). On Thursday, Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) sent a letter to Secretary Mnuchin requesting a direct bailout of oil and gas companies.
Economists and experts are in widespread agreement that the economic collapse of the oil and gas sector is due to long term structural problems that have only been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and oil price war. Over the last decade the industry has taken on enormous debt while spending billions on massive stock buybacks and dividend payments, and continued to pour money into new production, despite clear warnings that their trajectory endangers the planet, economy, and their own viability.
Since the outset of the coronavirus, the fossil fuel industry has attempted to profiteer off the crisis, lobbying the Trump administration for bailouts and the rollback of environmental protections, while pushing forward with the construction of dangerous pipeline projects like Keystone XL, Line 3, and the Coastal Gas Link in Canada. These actions not only exacerbate the ongoing climate crisis, and infringe on Indigenous rights, but endanger public health by increasing air pollution and contributing to the spread of the virus in rural communities and on tribal lands.
Stop the Money Pipeline is particularly focused on the role that Wall Street could play in a potential bailout of the industry. Last week, the coalition sounded the alarm when the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) bailed out Capital One for a series of risky commodities swaps the bank had made in the oil and gas sector. The coalition is also closely watching the role that BlackRock will be playing in managing the Fed’s corporate debt buying program. Despite BlackRock’s rhetoric on climate change, the asset manager is still the world’s largest investor in fossil fuels and a key target for the Stop the Money Pipeline campaign.
This April 23, Stop the Money Pipeline is organizing a major online day of action as part of Earth Day Live, three-days of climate action being led by the Youth Climate Strike Coalition around the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day. The April 23 day will focus on ending the flow of money to climate destruction and will include a livestream that features activists, celebrities, community leaders, politicians and more.
“Here in our territory, tiny communities brace for deadly impacts of a pandemic on our limited healthcare infrastructure as Enbridge continues prepping worksites to send Line 3 tar sands through our watersheds,” said Tara Houska (Couchiching First Nation Anishinaabe), Giniw Collective. “North American economic priorities are so out of balance — where is the investment in people and environmental sustainability, not corporate profits and fossil fuel destruction? We’re being confronted with our reliance on consumerism and extraction, change is here. Enough of the status quo.”
“This meeting is nothing short of wolves in the hen house, and our communities will be left to deal with the bloody aftermath. This crisis demands a response that speaks to the failures of our economic system, not one that doubles down on its ability to diminish our lives. Native communities are rising up and demanding a just transition, now!” said Dallas Goldtooth, Keep it in the Ground Campaigner for the Indigenous Environmental Network
“Superstorm Sandy cost my family everything. Now, Trump and the oil and gas CEOs are plotting bailouts so they can keep profiting while destroying our collective future,” said Rachel Rivera, a Sandy survivor and member of New York Communities for Change. “Speaker Pelosi and Majority Leader Schumer failed us on the coronavirus package. They can even the score in the next big stimulus bill by preventing bailouts for oil and gas CEOs, and helping people instead!”
“The greedy capitalists in the oil industry know no limits when it comes to siphoning money from our pocket books to theirs. As communities set up on-line fundraising accounts to bring life saving medical supplies to front-line health care workers and other essential workers during this pandemic crisis, Oil industry CEOs seek to seize the opportunity to take more of our money to enrich their bottomline and away from workers on the frontline of the Covid-19 outbreak. Capitalism, the burning of fossil fuels, and the greed of the 1% only increases the likelihood of mass pandemics and hinders communities from being able to properly prepare and protect from them,” said Matt Remle, co-founder of Mazaska Talks
“When America decided illness and death from smoking was intolerable, we provided tobacco farmers with support to protect their livelihoods while letting the public know about the dangers of smoking,” said Robin Schneider, Executive Director of Texas Campaign for the Environment. “Now, we need to support workers who have worked hard through the boom and bust eras of the fossil fuel sector. We need to retool the energy economy and transition their jobs to a more stable, more resilient clean energy economy. We cannot continue with the polluting practices that create climate disasters by bailing out the oil companies.”
“Nurses are getting sick and dying because they don’t have the protection they need, millions of people lost their jobs in the last two weeks and don’t know how they’re going to feed their families,” said Sunrise Movement Executive Director Varshini Prakash. “Trump should be spending his time helping working people, not meeting up with his corporate cronies. We have a choice to make: will we let the Trump administration spend hundreds of billions bailing out just the financial industry and massive corporations, or will we put millions of people to work tackling the dual crises of COVID and climate change?”
“Sending a financial liferaft to failing fossil fuel corporations while so many are losing jobs and hope for recovery is a slap in the face to hardworking American families. While many are struggling to breathe, oil fat cats are looking for yet another handout for their businesses that pump pollution into our finally clearing air and – lungs. With EPA pollution enforcement sidelined during the COVID-19 pandemic and the Trump administration’s rollback of health-based fuel efficiency standards during a climate crisis, now is the time to put the brake – not the gas – on oil company handouts. Let’s invest in renewable, safe energy jobs,” said Seeding Sovereignty Executive Director Janet MacGillivray
“The U.S. government must not enable the fossil fuel industry to exploit the COVID-19 crisis to line their pockets as the American people face increasing impacts of dire health issues, shortages in medical equipment and protection, loss of jobs and loved ones. Now more than ever we need to address the double crises of the coronavirus pandemic and climate chaos by centering the needs of people and planet. It is reprehensible to offer fossil fuel company bailouts and allow for continued infrastructure development– we cannot continue as we were. Bold economic transformation is necessary, and an immediate managed decline off of fossil fuels and a just transition for workers and care for the people,” said Osprey Orielle Lake, Executive Director of the Women’s Earth and Climate Action Network (WECAN)
“America is in dire need of continued support for health professionals, workers and vulnerable communities. Instead of reviewing a wish list from big oil, the president should focus on medical staff working without sufficient protective supplies, on families struggling to pay rent, and on people facing water shut-offs, even as they’re being told to wash their hands. Public health and well-being must come first,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune. “The decisions made in the coming weeks will shape our country for decades. We must start now to provide immediate relief and build a recovery that works for working people, and that avoids exacerbating inequity and the ongoing global climate crisis.”
“Let’s not be fooled by these CEOs’ claims that they don’t want bailout money: if they’re going to the White House, it’s either to ask for yet another spigot of federal government money for corporations or for yet another relaxation of environmental protection rules. It’s unacceptable that Trump is more focused on serving corporate interests that are destroying our climate than responding to the urgent needs of workers, the unemployed, and the sick. We need a people’s bailout, not a polluter’s bailout!” said Moira Birss, Amazon Watch Climate & Finance Director.
“Oil industry execs will no doubt cry big greasy tears at their meeting with the President, but they don’t deserve a shred of sympathy. For those huge salaries they get paid, you’d think these CEOs could have figured out that their industry has no future and begun to wind it down. Their workers deserve a break, but their companies don’t,” said Glenn Fieldman, with Fossil Free California.
“Between base salaries, bonuses, stock options, and other compensation, these seven oil CEOs earned at least a combined $100 million in 2018 alone. But this week — after oil prices plummeted to around $20 per barrel — they’re heading to the White House to ask President Trump to pull strings in their favor. Now is the time to provide economic relief for workers and families, not a dying industry. When it comes to the oil and gas sector, that means supplying immediate help and long-term security for communities impacted by the fossil fuel industry in the transition to a sustainable energy economy. Not one cent should be given to the billionaires who created and benefited from the climate crisis,” said Caroline Henderson, Senior Climate Campaigner at Greenpeace USA.
“Social distancing protocol requires that oil company CEOs avoid the White House until tough climate measures flatten the curve. Alas, this White House does not respect science,” said RL Miller of Climate Hawks Vote.
“At a time when not enough is being spent on protective gear for medical professionals, or to help families who are not able to pay their rent, it is disgusting that anyone would even consider propping up the dying industry that is responsible for the other existential threat to our existence: the climate crisis. Now is the time to invest in a just and green recovery, one that invests in health, security, and sustainability,” said Cynthia Kaufman of Fossil Free California.
“Oil markets are volatile and the experience of COVID-19 proves that. Oil industry representatives are publicly denying the need for a “bailout,” pushing free market ideals instead. To protect itself from oil and gas volatility the U.S. must continue to invest in alternative clean energy sources, instead of trying to beat OPEC+ at their own game. There is an opportunity worth seizing to help secure the U.S.’ energy future and help in the fight against climate change,” said Mary Cerulli of Climate Finance Action.
“This crisis of corruption is exposing how unsupported our frontline workers are: the nurses, the doctors, the teachers, the grocery clerks, and the sanitation workers. Their care is sustaining the country and they are essential to our communities. As they get sicker, the corporations causing the climate crisis are just getting richer,” said Mara Dolan of Women’s Environment and Development Organization (WEDO)
“As people of faith, every one of our religious traditions demands us to care for the most vulnerable amongst us; our neighbors; the stranger at our door. It is a moral imperative that bailout funds go directly to those most impacted by this unprecedented health and economic crisis. It is an affront to all of our moral teachings that even in a global pandemic, the world’s richest and most powerful CEOs are trying to capitalize off of a crisis at the expense of vulnerable communities. These are the same fossil fuel CEOs whose industries cause climate-induced disasters that force innocent people around the world to become climate refugees. Now, they are asking for corporate handouts. We, as the millions of people of faith in this country, demand better. We demand a just and equitable bailout,” said Reverend Fletcher Harper, Executive Director of GreenFaith.
“Trump should be meeting with the 10 million Americans who have filed for unemployment due to the pandemic. He should be reaching out to the nurses and doctors who are non stop caring for sick patients, without enough protective gear or equipment. It’s disrespectful and shameless that instead he’s chosen to roll out the red carpet for Big Oil executives,” said Tamara Toles O’Laughlin, North America Director at 350.org. “We will not stand for the consistent disregard that endangers millions of lives for the profit of a filthy few. Now is the time to change politics-as-usual. With no leadership in the White House, we demand that Congress hold the line and ensure no more bailouts or regulatory rollbacks of Big Oil. We are rising up as a movement to demand our dignity and rights for people, not polluters.”
“Major U.S. banks are playing a dominant and unconscionable role in financing the climate emergency we are facing as a global community. U.S. leadership is needed to lead the transition to a clean energy economy and a healthy future and our policymakers are failing. Banks need to halt their investments in fossil fuels, and fossil fuel expansion, and to respect human and environmental rights,” said Fran Teplitz, Executive Co-director of Green America.
“This meeting demonstrates all too starkly how poorly Donald Trump understands leadership, and just how well the oil industry understands Donald Trump. The American people deserve better,” said Carroll Muffett, President at Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL)
“As we triage pandemic and financial wreckage, there is a clear fork in the road of recovery: funding ever larger health and market disasters of climate change, or investing in safe and sustainable energy economies. It’s time to choose the road less traveled,” said Cheryl Barnds, Climate First!
“If corporations are people, they shouldn’t be getting more financial assistance then the American people,” say Mary Gutierrez, Executive Director of Earth Ethics, “this isn’t the time for bailouts, it’s the time for transitioning. We need to be transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources. However, this also includes transitioning of the fossil fuel industry workers. Let’s be smart on how we move forward; we have the opportunity to shape a better future for us and the earth.”
“The government can and should help oil and gas workers and their communities suffering from both the COVID-19 crisis and oil price collapse, but writing a blank check to fossil fuel executives is not the way to do it,” said Kathy Mulvey, fossil fuel accountability campaign director at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Fossil fuel companies have sought to take advantage of the crisis at the expense of workers’ and communities’ health and financial wellbeing. Just last week, the industry used the COVID-19 crisis to lobby the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to roll back air pollution protections, which will only increase the risks of fenceline communities already especially vulnerable to respiratory illness.”