Illustration for article titled A Fracking Bailout Is A Terrible Idea
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The U.S. government definitely has its priorities in order. Apparently, it’s considering using the coronavirus outbreak as an excuse to pour money into fossil fuel companies.

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The Washington Post reports that the Trump administration is considering kicking money to the beleaguered industry after Saudi Arabia kicked off an oil price war over the weekend, fueled largely by the coronavirus outbreak that has slowed demand worldwide. That has burst the shale oil and gas bubble, which was made possible by cheap loans from Wall Street after the 2008 recession.

That influx of money on the cheap has led the U.S. to become the world’s largest oil producer. It’s also helped drive a global rise in methane emissions, a greenhouse gas more climate-warming than carbon. And the spike in oil and gas production has also led to human rights abuses, notably what went down at Standing Rock over the Dakota Access Pipeline.

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But it looks like the genocidal party is over: oil and gas prices are down, bankruptcies and layoffs are up. The world doesn’t need any more shale oil and gas from the U.S. Production of oil and gas was outpacing demand already, and now due to the current coronavirus pandemic, the bubble is deflating even more quickly: demand for all kinds of oil is expected to drop for the first time in a decade.

This would be a great time to seriously transition away from fossil fuels and stimulate the economy by investing in new renewable energy infrastructure and a just transition program for fossil fuel workers under a Green New Deal. Instead, the Trump administration is reportedly considering pushing federal aid for shale oil and gas companies hit by plummeting oil prices amid the coronavirus outbreak. The Post reports that billionaire Harold Hamm, the founder of multibillion-dollar fracking firm Continental Resources and Trump energy advisor, has reached out but not made “direct” contact with the administration to talk about “any action that the administration might take to protect and preserve American interests at this time.”

The Post goes on to quote a senior administration official as saying helping fracking companies out is “one area we will be looking at for targeted assistance.” What do you think they’ll do with that money? Probably what they do best: drill, baby, drill, consequences be damned.

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Just to recap, that means the government is weighing whether to use the public’s money to bail out companies that are not only destroying the planet, but have also been shown to be economically unsustainable with or without the added pressure of coronavirus.

I know I shouldn’t be surprised, but come on. This is a country where millions of people don’t have healthcare and could face bankruptcy if they go to the doctor for coronavirus tests or treatment. The Trump administration said Medicare and Medicaid may not cover all healthcare for coronavirus patients. But it thinks we can bail out companies producing a product that’s worse for the planet than coal and isn’t even profitable? We can’t make sure people can afford to weather a global health crisis, but we can afford to support businesses that knowingly profited off of ecological destruction? Cool, cool, cool.

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Staff writer, Earther

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