Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Dear Common Dreams Readers:
Corporations and billionaires have their own media. Shouldn't we? When you “follow the money” that funds our independent journalism, it all leads back to this: people like you. Our supporters are what allows us to produce journalism in the public interest that is beholden only to people, our planet, and the common good. Please support our Mid-Year Campaign so that we always have a newsroom for the people that is funded by the people. Thank you for your support. --Jon Queally, managing editor

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

A Shell Oil Polar Pioneer rig platform as it moved from Elliott Bay in Seattle, Washington. (Photo: Tim Exton/AFP/Getty Images)

As Workers Suffer From Shutdown, Groups Accuse Trump of 'Rolling Out the Red Carpet' for Oil and Gas Drilling

"Furloughed federal workers can't pay their mortgages, but Trump is hellbent on ensuring profits for fossil fuel corporations."

Jake Johnson

Accusing the Trump administration of "rolling out the red carpet" for the fossil fuel industry as hundreds of thousands federal workers continue to suffer from the ongoing government shutdown, a coalition of environmental groups filed a formal complaint on Thursday alleging that the Interior Department's decision to continue processing oil and gas drilling permits during the partial shutdown is illegal.

"While the government shutdown has stopped paychecks for 800,000 federal workers, Trump is making sure that the shutdown doesn't get in the way of the government's work to intensify a climate crisis that threatens to kill everyone on the planet."
—David Sirota, Capital & Main
Because the Interior Department's Bureau of Land Management (BLM) cannot post information about the drilling applications due to the shutdown, the groups argued, it is unlawfully blocking the public from participating in the process or raising objections.

"In short, it is impossible for the public to inspect or otherwise provide meaningful feedback on any pending [applications or environmental reviews] related to these applications," WildEarth Guardians, Western Watersheds Project, and the Center for Biological Diversity wrote in their filing (pdf), which calls on the Interior Department to completely stop processing drilling permits until the government is reopened.

In a statement on Thursday, Taylor McKinnon—public lands campaigner with the Center for Biological Diversity—declared that the "only thing trashier than our national parks during this shutdown has been the Trump administration's coddling of the oil industry."

"Furloughed federal workers can't pay their mortgages, but Trump is hellbent on ensuring profits for fossil fuel corporations," McKinnon said. "Not one new lease or drilling permit should be allowed under these conditions."

"We've been completely shut out of decisions affecting our public lands, and we won’t stand for it," added Rebecca Fischer, climate and energy program attorney with WildEarth Guardians.

The coalition's formal objection comes as congressional Democrats and former Interior Department officials are also raising alarm at the Trump administration's decision to continue issuing drilling permits as the government is partially closed.

In a letter responding to the Interior Department's decision to bring back dozens of furloughed employees to work on offshore drilling permits and a Gulf of Mexico oil lease sale, a group of House Democrats called the move "outrageous" and said the department's justifications are "farcical."

The decision, the Democrats argued, demonstrates that the Trump administration only cares about the shutdown's "impacts on its favorite industry and not its workers, their families, and ordinary Americans."

Responding to a Bloomberg report detailing how the Trump White House is "working overtime to make sure the shutdown doesn't halt oil drilling," Capital & Main reporter David Sirota declared, "While the government shutdown has stopped paychecks for 800,000 federal workers, Trump is making sure that the shutdown doesn't get in the way of the government's work to intensify a climate crisis that threatens to kill everyone on the planet."

In a report published on Wednesday, Oil Change International and a coalition of environmental organizations concluded that the Trump administration's fervid commitment to expanding fossil fuel extraction could single-handedly undermine the world's ability to reduce carbon emissions quickly enough to avert planetary catastrophe.

"To prevent the worst impacts of climate change, we must keep oil, coal, and gas in the ground," May Boeve, executive director of 350.org, said in a statement. "It's time for public officials at every level to follow the lead of communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis and support bold climate policy."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Mark Meadows 'Did Seek That Pardon, Yes Ma'am,' Hutchinson Testifies

The former aide confirmed that attorney Rudy Giuliani also sought a presidential pardon related to the January 6 attack.

Jessica Corbett ·


UN Chief Warns of 'Ocean Emergency' as Leaders Confront Biodiversity Loss, Pollution

"We must turn the tide," said Secretary-General António Guterres. "A healthy and productive ocean is vital to our shared future."

Julia Conley ·


'I Don't F—ing Care That They Have Weapons': Trump Wanted Security to Let Armed Supporters March on Capitol

"They're not here to hurt me," Trump said on the day of the January 6 insurrection, testified a former aide to ex-White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows.

Jake Johnson ·


Facebook Removing Posts About Mailing Abortion Pills—But Not Guns

"Corporations are not your allies in the advancement of civil rights," said one observer.

Kenny Stancil ·


'Morally Bankrupt' G7 Slammed for 'Caving' to Fossil Fuel Lobby on Climate

"People in poverty around the world will pay the highest price for this backtrack by some of the wealthiest countries," one activist warned of the group's new statement on gas investments.

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo