Led by California Rep. Nanette Barragan, 20 House Democrats sent a letter to President Trump this week urging him not to give any government relief to the oil and gas industry as it struggles with plunging oil prices. They did so without support from Oklahoma’s only Democrat in the House, Rep. Kendra Horn.
“A bailout tells the American public that fossil fuel investors can rely on U.S. taxpayers to cover their bills when the industry’s corporate executives’ risky investments don’t pan out,” stated the letter.
“Diverting public funds to bail out this industry will do nothing to stop the spread of this deadly virus or provide relief to those in need,” lawmakers wrote in the letter spearheaded by Rep. Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-Calif.).
On Friday, Trump announced that the U.S. would buy as much as 77 million barrels of oil to help the industry as prices slump amid an ongoing trade dispute between Russia and Saudi Arabia as well as the coronavirus.
Those barrels would be held in the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, a move that would cost taxpayers more than $2.5 billion.
Senate Democrats have already decried such assistance, while large oil companies have previously said they are not interested in any financial assistance.
Democrats worry the public health crisis surrounding coronavirus will lead to the government propping up the oil industry and handicapping efforts to combat climate change.
“Using this public health crisis as an excuse for another giveaway to the fossil fuel industry is badly misguided. It would only worsen the climate crisis,” lawmakers wrote. “ A corporate bailout for oil and gas industry is not the answer to either crisis.”
Oklahoma’s Rep. Kendra Horn, the only Democrat in the State’s Congressional delegation did not sign the letter. A spokesman for her office indicated that instead, Rep. Horn is “working to find ways to support the oil and gas industry and workforce during these difficult times.”
U.S. Senate Republicans, including Sens. Jim Inhofe and James Lankford sent a letter last week urging just the opposite. They supported some kind of assistance to the oil and gas industry.