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Congress Urged to Reject $400+ Billion Fossil Fuel Bailout

WASHINGTON - More than 100 climate, environmental, social-justice and workers’ rights groups urged Congress today to reject Republican efforts to assist the fossil fuel industry and instead focus relief legislation on the American people.

The call comes as the latest proposed coronavirus-relief package continues to include large, unconditional bailouts for corporations and inadequate relief for the workers and communities most harmed by the pandemic.

Today’s letter specifically opposes a proposal from Senate Republicans that would make hundreds of billions of dollars in condition-free loans available to fossil fuel corporations.

“If this monstrosity becomes law, Republicans will have succeeded in taking billions away from Americans in need and giving it to fossil fuel polluters,” said Brett Hartl, government affairs director at the Center for Biological Diversity, one of the signatory groups. “People are dying, yet the fossil fuel industry is insisting behind closed doors on receiving hundreds of billions in free taxpayer assistance. It’s absolutely disgusting.”

The letter — also signed by the Sunrise Movement, the Indigenous Environmental Network, the Hip Hop Caucus, Greenpeace USA, 350.org, Friends of the Earth, Fire Drill Fridays, and many others — demands that any coronavirus relief legislation provide affected people with immediate material relief including healthcare, wage replacement and moratoriums on evictions and utility shutoffs.

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It demands the rejection of the fossil fuel industry’s wish list, including tax breaks; payments to fossil fuel corporations rather than workers; waivers or suspensions of environmental, health, and safety laws; low-interest loans and loan guarantees; purchases for, or expansion of, the Strategic Petroleum Reserve; royalty relief; new subsidies; and any additional giveaways.

The Trump administration and Senate Republicans have previously floated the idea of buying billions of dollars in crude to prop up oil prices.

“Republicans want to give Donald Trump a $500 billion blank check to bail out any corporation he wants and to spend $3 billion driving up the price of oil for consumers at the pump to protect oil companies’ profits,” says Varshini Prakash, the executive director of the Sunrise Movement, another signatory. “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?”

The letter further demands that Congress provide for the long-term security and just transition for workers in the fossil fuel industry and communities dependent on that economy and safeguard against the economic dangers of climate change.

“In responding quickly, holistically and completely to the COVID-19 pandemic where the top priority is to protect the most important thing in the world — the health of our loved ones, our neighbors, and ourselves — it is immoral to divert resources needed for the people to the fossil fuel industry that poisons our communities every day,” said Rev. Lennox Yearwood Jr., president and founder of the Hip Hop Caucus. “The extremely high rates of asthma and respiratory illnesses caused by fossil fuel pollution in black and brown communities are putting us at an even greater risk for COVID-19 right now. At this critical moment, we demand that our elected leaders put us on a sustainable and moral path forward by supporting the health of people, workers, and the planet over corporate polluters.”

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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