Fossil Fuel Firms With Ties to Trump Administration Get Small Business Loans
So far fossil fuel firms have taken at least $50 million that will probably never be paid back. From that money $28 million is going to three coal companies, all with ties to the Trump administration.
Hallador Energy Co., an Indiana-based coal company, which hired Trump's first EPA administrator, Scott Pruitt, as a lobbyist, said it received a $10 million loan from the Small Business Administration under the Paycheck Protection Program, according to Environment and Energy News (E&E News).
Drilling well site services company Enservco Corp., oil well services company DMC Global Inc. and electric truck manufacturer Workhorse Group Inc. are getting loans, as well.
Coal mining company Rhino Resources, which was formerly run by Trump's Mine Safety and Health Administration head, David Zatezalo, is receiving $10 million. Coal firm Ramaco Resources, whose CEO, Randy Atkins, is on the energy department's National Coal Council, is getting $8.4 million, as The Guardian reported.
Brett Hartl, head of government affairs at the Center for Biological Diversity, accused fossil fuel companies of "fundamental hypocrisy and arrogance" in seeking the loans.
"It is hard to think of another industry that consistently fought against government regulation, boasted about the power of the free market and otherwise undermined the public good in the last 20 years," he said, E&E News reported. "But now they come slinking back to shamelessly ask for taxpayer funds and corporate socialism to save them from their own poor choices."
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has successfully lobbied for the Main Street Lending Program to include oil and gas companies of a large size. As The Hill reported, companies with 15,000 employees or $5 billion in annual revenue will now qualify, up from 10,000 employees and $2.5 billion in revenue. The minimum loan size ranges from $500,000 to $1 million — a move designed to make the program accessible to both small and medium-sized businesses.
Many Democrats have reacted strongly to the gifts given to the fossil fuel industry while the country faces the largest increase in unemployment since the Great Depression. More than 40 Democratic lawmakers have argued that fossil fuel companies should not get any assistance under the coronavirus aid package.
"By hook or by crook, Big Oil is going to try to get a bailout while small businesses shutter," Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.) said in a statement following the new Main Street Lending Program guidelines, as The Hill reported.
"President Trump's fossil fuel cronies lobbied and are going to take money that was meant to help businesses survive the coronavirus pandemic in order to bail themselves out of $200 billion in existing debt," Markey said. "It is deplorable to spend good money after bad and waste taxpayer dollars on an industry that has been struggling for years due to bad business decisions ... It's unacceptable, unwarranted, and unjust, and we cannot let this stand."
Environmental groups also lined up against the notion of fossil fuel firms exploiting a global pandemic for a government handout.
Melinda Pierce, the legislative director for the Sierra Club, said to The Guardian: "The federal money Congress appropriated should be going to help small businesses and frontline workers struggling as a result of the pandemic, not the corporate polluters whose struggles are a result of failing business practices and existed long before Covid-19 entered the public lexicon."
Graham Steele, who directs the corporations and society initiative at Stanford Graduate School of Business, called the situation the "classic disaster scenario where an opportunistic administration and industry is taking advantage of a crisis," as The Guardian reported.
"And by the way, these are industries driving climate change. It's both a bad financial proposition of the Fed and for taxpayers and a bad situation for the planet."
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A "trash tsunami" has washed ashore on the beaches of Honduras, endangering both wildlife and the local economy.
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More long-finned pilot whales were found stranded today on beaches in Tasmania, Australia. About 500 whales have become stranded, including at least 380 that have died, the AP reported. It is the largest mass stranding in Australia's recorded history.
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By Harry Kretchmer
By 2030, almost a third of all the energy consumed in the European Union must come from renewable sources, according to binding targets agreed in 2018. Sweden is helping lead the way.
Sweden is a world leader in renewable energy consumption. Swedish Institute/World Bank
Naturally Warm<p>54% of Sweden's power comes from renewables, and is helped by its geography. With plenty of moving water and 63% forest cover, it's no surprise the <a href="https://sweden.se/nature/energy-use-in-sweden/#" target="_blank">two largest renewable power sources</a> are hydropower and biomass. And that biomass is helping support a local energy boom.</p><p>Heating is a key use of energy in a cold country like Sweden. In recent decades, as fuel oil taxes have increased, the country's power companies have turned to renewables, like biomass, to fuel local 'district heating' plants.</p><p>In Sweden these trace their <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank">origins back to 1948</a>, when a power station's excess heat was first used to heat nearby buildings: steam is <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/engineering/district-heating-system" target="_blank">forced along a network of pipes</a> to wherever it's needed. Today, there are around 500 district heating systems across the country, from major cities to small villages, providing heat to homes and businesses.</p><p>District heating used to be fueled mainly from the <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140" target="_blank">by-products of power plants</a>, waste-to-energy plants and industrial processes. These days, however, Sweden is bringing more renewable sources into the mix. And as a result of competition, this localized form of power is now the country's<a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0360544217304140#fig3" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer"> home-heating market leader.</a></p>
Sweden is using smart grids to turn buildings into energy producers. Huang et al/Elsevier
Energy ‘Prosumers’<p>But Sweden doesn't stop at village-level heating solutions. Its new breed of energy-generation takes hyper-local to the next level.</p><p>One example is in the city of Ludivika where 1970s flats <a href="https://www.buildup.eu/sites/default/files/content/transforming-a-residential-building-cluster-into-electricity-prosumers-in-sweden.pdf" target="_blank">have recently been retrofitted with the latest smart energy technology</a>.</p><p>48 family apartments spread across 3 buildings have been given photovoltaic solar panels, thermal energy storage and heat pump systems. A micro energy grid connects it all, and helps charge electric cars overnight.</p><p>The result is a cluster of 'prosumer' buildings, producing rather than consuming enough power for 77% of residents' needs. With <a href="http://www.diva-portal.org/smash/get/diva2:1232060/FULLTEXT01.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">high levels of smart meter usage</a>, it's a model that looks set to spread across Sweden.</p>
<div id="d7bf9" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="8757b138d5570bec9d6aad18074a429a"><blockquote class="twitter-tweet twitter-custom-tweet" data-twitter-tweet-id="1273556364263071744" data-partner="rebelmouse"><div style="margin:1em 0">Read more about Western Harbour and book a visit: https://t.co/ujSmVs9rNK 🏡🌳🌊 https://t.co/C5PuPziqIM</div> — Smart City Sweden (@Smart City Sweden)<a href="https://twitter.com/SmartCitySweden/statuses/1273556364263071744">1592474473.0</a></blockquote></div>
Scaling Up<p>A recent development by E.ON in Hyllie, a district on the outskirts of Malmö, southern Sweden, <a href="https://www.eonenergy.com/blog/2019/February/sweden-smart-city" target="_blank">has scaled up the smart grid principle</a>. Energy generation comes from local wind, solar, biomass and waste sources.</p><p>Smart grids then balance the power, react to the weather, deploying extra power when it's colder or putting excess into battery storage when it's warm. The system is not only more efficient, but bills have fallen.</p><p>Smart energy developments like those in Hyllie, Ludivika, and renewable-driven district heating, offer a radical alternative to the centralized energy systems many countries rely on today.</p><p>The EU's leaders have a challenge: how to generate 32% of energy from renewables by 2030. Sweden offers a vision of how technology and local solutions can turn a goal into a reality.</p>
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By Jessica Corbett
In another win for climate campaigners, leaders of 12 major cities around the world — collectively home to about 36 million people — committed Tuesday to divesting from fossil fuel companies and investing in a green, just recovery from the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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