Public Ownership of Fossil Fuels a Potential Solution to Multiple Crises, Says New Report
At a time of overlapping crises, putting fossil fuel assets into public ownership offers a way to slash carbon emissions and pave the way for a just transition for oil and gas workers who find themselves without a job, according to a new report.
Fracking was a loss-making enterprise before the global pandemic — more than 200 North American oil and gas companies have gone bankrupt since 2015 — but with oil prices crashing below $20 per barrel, many more companies will go under.
With each passing week, the U.S. oil and gas industry and its allies in Washington have used the COVID-19 pandemic and the unfolding economic crisis to gut important environmental protections and lobby for handouts.
Each newfangled idea is more brazen than the previous. On April 16, for instance, the Trump administration finalized rules to allow more toxic mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants. Drilled News has a running tally of all the different ways the industry is trying to capitalize off of the coronavirus crisis, a list that has totaled about 60 different environmental rollback measures as of mid-April.
But one of the more outlandish ideas the administration has conjured up is to pay fracking companies to do nothing. Bloomberg reported that the Department of Energy was considering a plan to pay drillers to cut back on drilling, a sort of debauched version of “keep it in the ground.”
“That is actually an interesting step forward” in the sense that the government sets up a framework to keep oil and gas from being extracted in the first place, Johanna Bozuwa, co-manager of the Climate and Energy Program at the Democracy Collaborative, told DeSmog in an interview. She authored a new report called “The Case for Public Ownership of the Fossil Fuel Industry,” which was published jointly with Oil Change International.