Big Oil Taking $1.9 Billion in CARES Act Tax Breaks
By Eoin Higgins
Sen. Bernie Sanders was among critics outraged that the fossil fuel industry is using tax breaks in the CARES Act meant to help businesses keep workers employed to avoid paying millions of dollars in taxes — and then delivering that money to executives.
"Good thing President Trump is looking out for the real victims of the coronavirus: fossil fuel executives," Sanders tweeted sarcastically Friday.
Coronavirus has killed more than 85,000 people. Some 36 million workers have lost their jobs. Good thing President… https://t.co/53JsMguSMT— Bernie Sanders (@Bernie Sanders)1589565161.0
Reporting Friday from Bloomberg News showed that "$1.9 billion in CARES Act tax benefits are being claimed by at least 37 oil companies, service firms, and contractors" — what watchdog group Documented senior researcher Jesse Coleman described as a "stealth bailout" of the climate-killing industry.
"In the name of 'small business,' we're shoveling out billions of dollars to big corporations and rich guys," Steve Rosenthal, a senior fellow with the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, told Bloomberg.
Bloomberg used the example of how Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. manipulated the bailout to explain the tax scheme:
As it headed toward bankruptcy, Diamond Offshore Drilling Inc. took advantage of a little-noticed provision in the stimulus bill Congress passed in March to get a $9.7 million tax refund. Then, it asked a bankruptcy judge to authorize the same amount as bonuses to nine executives.
According to Bloomberg's reporting, Diamond's refund pales in comparison to some of its larger competitors, "including $55 million for Denver-based Antero Midstream Corp., $41.2 million for supplier Oil States International Inc. and $96 million for Oklahoma-based producer Devon Energy Corp."
OIL CAPITALISM -- Diamond Offshore takes $9.7m from American taxpayers, then earmarks the same amount to execs as b… https://t.co/0P0eDOTCvO— Kevin Crowley (@Kevin Crowley)1589550846.0
The fossil fuel industry was already in financial trouble before the outbreak, which has effectively crippled Big Oil's ability to make money — even with the generous subsidies given by the federal government. Access to bailout tax break funding is helping fossil fuel companies prosper, along with other climate-destroying industries like mining companies, which have also reaped millions from coronavirus relief legislation.
"The Trump administration's favor factory hasn't stopped with a global pandemic," Accountable U.S. spokesperson Jayson O'Neill said in a statement Friday. "As millions of jobs disappear week after week, the Trump administration is prioritizing aid for wealthy, well-connected corporations before small businesses."
Reposted with permission from Common Dreams.
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Climate Week this year coincides with clear skies in Washington state for the first time in almost two weeks.
In just a few days in early September, Washington state saw enough acres burned – more than 600,000 – to reach our second-worst fire season on record. Our worst fire season came only five years ago. Wildfires aren't new to the west, but their scope and danger today is unlike anything firefighters have seen. People up and down the West Coast – young and old, in rural areas and in cities – were choking on smoke for days on end, trapped in their homes.
Fires like these are becoming the norm, not the exception.