WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) and Senator Jeff Merkley (D-OR) led a bicameral letter to Federal Reserve Board Chairman Jerome Powell, with 45 of their colleagues, opposing the Fed’s expansion of the Main Street Lending Program to companies within the oil and gas industry. The group of lawmakers feel the expansion of this program presents an immediate risk to taxpayers, whose investment could be gambled away on risky bets designed to save oil and gas companies.
“We will fiercely resist any efforts to have the Federal Reserve System take on additional risk in the Main Street Lending Program or through any other existing or new Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) for oil and gas,” the group wrote. “The Main Street Lending Program’s apparent oil and gas expansion plays into the public’s worst assumptions about crony capitalism and the dangerous lack of urgency for limiting emissions causing climate chaos.”
The letter comes as Members of Congress are deeply concerned that provisions in the CARES Act designed for states, municipalities, and businesses are being used to shore up large corporate polluters whose business practices have been contributing to climate change. The letter also pushed the need to reject political pressure from President Trump and to follow the intent of the CARES Act. On Tuesday, Energy Secretary Dan Brouillete confirmed that the Trump administration had specifically pressured the Fed to change the terms of the program in order to benefit fossil fuel companies.
“An independent Federal Reserve should guard itself against the intense lobbying and political pressure, even that brought by the President,” the letter continued. “The stimulus provisions of the CARES Act were designed to support municipalities, states and businesses hit hard by the coronavirus. By turning the CARES Act into a fund for corporate polluters whose economic woes predate the crisis you are undermining the intent of the law. People across the country who have lost jobs and health care are crying out for direct relief, not for the Federal Reserve to bail out oil executives and invest in accelerating climate chaos.”
Rep. Tlaib and Sen. Merkley were joined by U.S. Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ), Ed Markey (D-MA), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), along with 41 U.S. Representatives.
The full letter and a complete list of signers from the House and the full letter can be viewed here.