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For Immediate Release


Jayson O’Neill, 406-570-5019

Press Release

Big Oil Going Bankrupt, Laying Off Workforce Despite Billions In Taxpayer-Backed Bailouts

Trump Administration even failing favored fossil fuel industry.

Even after Big Oil and the favored fossil fuel industry soaked up upwards of $8.6 billion in taxpayer-backed bailouts and environmental regulatory enforcement breaks from the Trump administration, the sector continues to shed workers and experience bankruptcies at an unprecedented rate despite Trump’s baseless claims

“Virtually every one of these Big Oil and fossil fuel corporations siphoning up taxpayer-funds were toxic assets who had upside-down balance sheets well before the pandemic. Not only are the Trump administration’s bailout efforts failing to resurrect its ‘energy dominance’ pipe dream, but the sector is shedding tens of thousands of workers to boot. This is another extremely bad investment by Trump that is lining the pockets of CEOs and doing little to nothing for actual workers,” said Jayson O’Neill, Accountable.US spokesperson.

Recent reports highlight the underlying problems with the industry despite the Trump administration’s desperate attempts to right the fossil fuel sector’s sinking ship. In addition to several dozen oil corporations filing for bankruptcy or preparing to declare bankruptcy in the second quarter, nearly 500 Texas oil jobs have been lost in just the last week with upwards of layoffs 21,500 coming down the pipeline in the Lone Star State in the near future. 

Under the CARES Act Relief packages and decisions by the Trump administration, Big Oil and the fossil fuel industry are eligible for and took billions in taxpayer-backed bailouts:

  • The fossil fuel sector has already received between $3 and $6.7 billion in forgivable Paycheck Protection Program monies. With the wave of bankruptcies across the sector, taxpayers are unlikely to see the loans paid back. An analysis of SBA data found that over 62% of the private ‘Mining’ corporations, including Big Oil, receiving some amount of taxpayer-funded bailout through the PPP. 
  • Big Oil is reporting some $1.9 billion in tax refunds following changes to the law -- a number that is certain to rise as the year continues. This is in addition to the $16 billion in permanent tax code incentives the industry already enjoys. 
  • Federal Reserve has at its disposal $600 billion as part of the Main Street lending program that was substantially weakened to expand eligibility at Big Oil’s request. 
  • Former Big Oil lobbyist turned-Interior Secretary David Bernhardt has been swiftly cutting royalty rates and suspending leases for oil and gas corporations. The giveaway of revenue from oil and gas development is also crippling state and local budgets.  
  • Trump’s Department of Energy also made an unprecedented move by awarding Strategic Petroleum Reserve storage contracts to Big Oil corporations. Leasing space in the SPR to privately-owned Big Oil corporations has never been done before and may not even be legal after legislation to authorize it failed to pass in 2018.

And as the number of oil corporations filing for bankruptcy skyrockets, so are the number of orphaned wells -- now estimated at over 56,000. Taxpayers could be on the hook for hundreds of millions of dollars to clean-up these wells, which are a growing threat to drinking water supplies, air quality, and wildlife. Meanwhile, CEOs are collecting millions of dollars in bonuses on their way out the door.

With the Senate proposing an additional round of relief, Big Oil, big corporations and polluting industries are again favored and could be eligible for billions more in taxpayer-backed monies as struggling workers are again largely ignored.


Accountable.US is a nonpartisan watchdog that exposes corruption in public life and holds government officials and corporate special interests accountable by bringing their influence and misconduct to light. In doing so, we make way for policies that advance the interests of all Americans, not just the rich and powerful. 

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