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WASHINGTON, D.C. – As the fossil fuel industry seeks a massive government bailout amid the global financial crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, Food & Water Action is explicitly calling for the federal government to take a controlling stake in corporate fossil fuel extraction, production and infrastructure interests. This move is an important step in protecting the jobs of tens of thousands of workers across the country as part of a managed transition to a new green economy.

Public ownership of the industry will give American taxpayers greater control over the short- and mid-term financial restructuring of these giant corporations, and would prevent the fleecing of federal coffers to enrich fossil fuel executives and mega-wealthy private shareholders at the expense of everyday Americans.

Critically, federal control of these corporations will protect workers in the fossil fuel industry and provide tens of thousands of new jobs that would not be subject to the whims of Wall Street speculators, self-interested CEOs or volatile shifts in global commodity prices.

“It’s time to take bold action to rescue the American economy and set an unstable, polluting industry on the path to saving jobs,” said Wenonah Hauter, executive director of Food & Water Action. “Public ownership of the oil and gas industry will help secure the health, safety and employment of people across the country, while ensuring an energy transition that prioritizes clean, safe food and water and a livable planet for all.”

As new green jobs are created, government control of these corporations would also allow for a halt to new fossil fuel drilling, fracking and infrastructure development (which are unnecessary and fiscally irresponsible), and the decommissioning of existing fossil fuel infrastructure to ensure the complete transition to clean, renewable energy sources. These steps will both help steer the country through the current public health crisis and avoid the worst effects of the deepening climate crisis.

In this period of greatly reduced market value of fossil fuel companies, a controlling government stake in these interests will be a great value for American taxpayers. The inclusion of this investment in a much broader federal response to the economic crisis brought on by the coronavirus epidemic would be a wise strategic and fiscal decision for the short- and long-term interests of the federal government and the country.