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U.S. Should Protect Oil Company Workers, Not Executives and Shareholders

Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director, Public Citizen’s Energy Program

NOTE: In response to Monday’s historic drop in oil prices, President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that his administration is working on a relief package that would have taxpayers bail out owners and shareholders of oil companies. The move comes after intense lobbying by the oil industry.

Instead of bailing out executives and shareholders of a polluting industry that has made repeated bad bets, the federal government should extend a lifeline to rank-and-file oil workers and force industry leaders to adapt to new realities. The administration should give industry workers full pay during the crisis and transition to clean energy as we phase out our reliance on polluting fossil fuels.

Providing an industry bailout will not resuscitate the long-term financial prospects of workers and their families. It will reward bad financial decision-making in the face of oil’s poor economics and weakened long-term viability.

Such an open-ended handout ignores that the industry’s woes long predate the coronavirus pandemic and that burning fossil fuels severely exacerbates public health crises like the one the world finds itself in now.