Email shows oil industry lobbying strategy for bailout

WASHINGTON – Although the oil lobby has repeatedly declared that it is not “looking for a government handout,” an email obtained by Friends of the Earth through the Freedom of Information Act shows that the opposite is true.

In an email sent to federal banking regulators, the Independent Petroleum Association of America (IPAA) pushed for relaxed lending standards to better ensure access to potential billions in stimulus loans. The email shows IPAA’s government relations VP Lee Fuller calling for the weakening and reversal of oil and gas lending standards developed under the Obama administration, clearing the path for riskier loans from banks and a bailout from taxpayers.

The day after the IPAA sent its demands to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, over 40 predominantly energy state Republicans wrote a letter to Trump that included a virtually identical ask to ensure that these lending standards did not “hinder or prohibit” oil producer access to stimulus funds.

The email from Lee Fuller is available upon request.

Lukas Ross, program manager with Friends of the Earth, issued the following statement in response:

This email catches oil company lobbyists in yet another lie. After protesting that they are not seeking a bailout, this evidence shows they are vying for billions in risky loans from banks and taxpayers.

If it talks like a bailout, sounds like a bailout, and asks for money like a bailout, it is probably a bailout.

This email proves the urgent need for Congressional oversight. Investigations are needed to determine the scope of Big Oil’s influence over stimulus implementation, including the extent to which the Trump administration is clearing the path for risky loans to polluters.

The oil industry drilled itself into insolvency long before the crisis and should not now be granted a handout at the expense of taxpayers. Stimulus money should go to the people and small businesses hit hardest by coronavirus, not oil companies drowning in their own debt.

Previous Friends of the Earth research on oil industry lobbying efforts are documented here:

  • An analysis of Big Oil’s lobbying activities around coronavirus relief to date
  • An analysis of Big Oil’s potential benefits under the Federal Reserve’s corporate debt-buying program
  • An analysis of the biggest potential beneficiaries of slashed royalty rates for oil and gas companies on our public lands and waters


Expert contact:
Lukas Ross, (202) 222-0724, [email protected]

Communications contact: Aisha Dukule, (202) 893-3502, [email protected] 

Related News Releases