“Trump has once again put the interests of oil and gas executives ahead of the interests of people and communities.”
Climate action groups and progressive critics expressed disappointment and outrage on Friday afternoon after President Donald Trump—despite a continued failure to offer far-reaching support to the U.S. public—moved to bolster the bottom lines of oil and gas companies by announcing a massive federal purchase for the nation’s Strategic Petroleum Reserve (SPR).
“Based on the price of oil, I’ve also instructed the Secretary of Energy to purchase at a very good price large quantities of crude oil for storage in the U.S. strategic reserve,” Trump announced during a White House press conference—surrounded by CEOs from major corporations, including Walmart, CVS, and Target—in which he also declared an official national emergency in order to combat the outbreak of the coronavirus.
“With this move, Trump has rolled out a plan to prop up U.S. oil companies before he has even bothered to guarantee paid sick leave for US workers who are going to be on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis for weeks to come.”
—Alex Doukas, Oil Change International”We’re going to fill it right up to the top,” said of the SPR, but critics were quick to point out that move has everything to do with helping his wealthy friends and cronies in the fossil fuel industry, and nothing to do with helping average people now under threat from the spreading pandemic.
“Trump has once again put the interests of oil and gas executives ahead of the interests of people and communities,” said Alex Doukas of Oil Change International. “With this move, Trump has rolled out a plan to prop up U.S. oil companies before he has even bothered to guarantee paid sick leave for US workers who are going to be on the frontlines of the coronavirus crisis for weeks to come.”
The news came Friday as additional school closures were announced for states nationwide, grocery store shelves were wiped clean, and worry continues to spread about just how extensive the outbreak will become.
Greenpeace warned that the total cost of the oil purchase “could exceed $2.6 billion in public funds,” a stark comparison when put next to the proposal put forth by House Democrats just hours earlier. Introducing the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act“(pdf), which calls for an estimated $1.7 billion aimed at helping working families and children to weather the public health crisis, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said, “The American people expect and deserve a coordinated, science-based and whole-of-government response to keep them and their loved ones safe: a response that puts families first to stimulate the economy.”