Center for Biological Diversity

For Immediate Release, April 6, 2020


Brett Hartl, (202) 817-8121,

Public Records Sought on Fossil Fuel Companies’ Bailout Requests

WASHINGTON— The Center for Biological Diversity sent a Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of the Treasury today seeking applications by oil, gas, coal and plastics companies to receive federal assistance as part of 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, which Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin can disburse as he sees fit.

Within minutes of signing the CARES Act into law, President Trump issued a signing statement indicating that he would not comply with key aspects of the required congressional oversight for the distressed sector bailout. Without this oversight Mnuchin can bail out the fossil fuel industry without any meaningful accountability or transparency.

“The public has every right to know which climate-killing companies are asking the Trump administration for a bailout,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center. “Mnuchin is now the overlord of the U.S. economy and can pick winners and losers as he sees fit, even if it destroys our climate. That’s terrifying.”

The fossil fuel industry already receives more than $20 billion in subsidies every year from the federal government, vastly exceeding the federal assistance received by any other industry in the United States. The lion’s share of the $450 billion in funding potentially available in the CARES Act is likely to go to the fossil fuel industry, since no other sector of the economy, other than airlines, has losses on the scale of the fossil fuel industry.

“If the fossil fuel industry can’t survive without billions in federal assistance, the public has a right to know that fact. This money would be far better spent building a green economy based on renewable energy,” said Hartl. “These documents will show once and for all that the fossil fuel industry is nothing but the biggest recipient of corporate socialism in the history of the world.”

The Center for Biological Diversity is a national, nonprofit conservation organization with more than 1.7 million members and online activists dedicated to the protection of endangered species and wild places.

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