For Immediate Release, April 20, 2020

300 Groups Call on Congress to Bail Out People, Not Polluters

WASHINGTON— Turtle Island Restoration Network joined more than 300 groups in calling on Congress today to demand that federal relief money be directed to people affected by the COVID-19 crisis and not to fossil fuel polluters.

The climate, environmental justice, faith, health, youth and other organizations that signed the letter cite the fossil fuel industry’s successful lobbying of Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency to suspend enforcement of pollution safeguards and warned against more concessions to polluters when Congress drafts its next relief bill.

Today’s letter calls on Congress to exclude the fossil fuel industry from receiving loans and other federal support, ensure affected fossil fuel workers are provided with assistance and labor protections for weathering a job transition, and bar financial institutions receiving loans or loan guarantees from using that money to finance fossil fuel infrastructure projects.

The groups’ letter also calls for immediate protection of healthcare workers; a prohibition on federal handouts for the fossil fuel industry; direct support for fossil fuel workers and communities reliant on that industry; and vigorous monitoring of the Trump administration and the financial sector to ensure they do not boost the fossil fuel industry during the pandemic.

The letter notes that fossil fuel pollution disproportionately sickens black communities, indigenous communities and other communities of color, and that black people also are dying at disproportionate rates from the pandemic. Given the recent Harvard study linking air-pollution exposure to COVID-19 death rates, recovery efforts must reject bailouts for polluting industries and invest in these hardest-hit communities, according to today’s letter.

In the past four weeks, 22 million people have filed unemployment claims, with economists predicting the highest unemployment rates since the Great Depression.