By Anders Lorenzen
A coalition of 21 US green groups is putting pressure on Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden to undo Donald Trump’s bailout for the fossil fuel industry if he is successful in the November 7th US presidential election.
In a joint letter penned by the said coalition , they’re asking Biden’s campaign to create a plan that would undo the huge fossil fuel industry bailout enabled by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (Cares Act).
The CARES Act provides $450 billion in condition-free assistance which the Treasury Department can allocate in almost any way they see fit. And many fossil fuel companies would qualify for it. Critics argue that the program has been abused by fossil fuel companies.
The letter asks Biden to scrutinize every loan authorized by Secretary Mnuchin and the Federal Reserve to any fossil fuel company. It urges Biden to pledge to prohibit companies that abuse these funds or mis-state facts in loan applications 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.
Brett Hartl, chief political strategist at the Center for Biological Diversity Action Fund, and one of the signatories of the letter, stated: “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. 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.”
Additionally, the letter requests that an eventual Biden administration would review the behaviour of companies who receive loans. This would include whether they comply with all environmental safeguards during the pandemic, provide workers full sick and paid leave, provide full protective equipment to essential workers, and do 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.
Another signature of the letter, Oil Change US’s senior campaigner Collin Rees, stated: “An unchecked bailout of Big Oil would have disastrous consequences for the climate agenda of a Biden administration. 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 to the frontline workers and communities most in need.”
The Cares Act was signed into law by Donald Trump on the 27th of March.