Subsidies would be yet another appalling misuse of pandemic aid.

Oil companies and North Dakota state government are colluding once again to divert CARES Act funding to bail out – Surprise! Surprise! – oil companies.

This time, rather than using coronavirus pandemic money to plug oil wells, as they did a few months back, the state-fossil-fuel partners want to use $16 million for hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” as its commonly known. The proposal is from the North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources, which developed it in conjunction with oil companies.

The word “partners” is purposeful. The North Dakota Department of Mineral Resources seems little more than a taxpayer-funded industry cheerleader, and its leader, Lynn Helms, the patently biased liaison to other government agencies and leaders. The state leaders, especially the all-Republican members of the North Dakota Industrial Commission and the Emergency Commission, have in turn demonstrated repeatedly that they are little more than rubber stampers for fossil fuels interests.

The Emergency Commission will consider the plan tomorrow (Friday, October 23).

IV Words wrote about the previous misuse of pandemic aid in May when the Emergency Commission approved the well-plugging bailout:  “Pouring coronavirus stimulus funds down a hole. Literally.”

Not only was that use of CARES Act funds questionable from a legitimacy standpoint if not a legal one, it defied logic, propriety and reason. The state diverted funds meant to help individuals, families and small businesses stay afloat while attempting to slow the spread of a deadly virus and avoiding infection themselves, to use it for capping oil wells, instead. The wells were a problem that predated the pandemic by years and was caused by oil companies that abandoned the wells and should have been held accountable before.

Photo of an anti-fracking protest sign with a man seated in the background
Fricking fracking!
Photo by seeshooteatrepeat via Shutterstock

As egregious as that was, this plan is even more despicable. This sham is not for plugging abandoned oil wells but for enabling the continuation of fracking, an activity that is contributing to the destruction of our environment and planet while endangering the health and welfare of people all over the world.

If it’s approved by the Emergency Commission, it will be yet another appalling misuse of CARES Act funding. Once again, it will take money away from everyday people who need it to survive and put it directly into the pockets of oil companies whose activities and products are causing global warming, which in turn is changing Earth’s climate in dangerous ways for all living things, including humans.

The state-fossil-fuel partners tried to sell the first misuse of CARES Act funds to plug oil wells as jobs creation, and they’re attempting to do the same this time around for fracking. 

But let’s be real – that’s just whitewash for another unconscionable act on behalf of an industry that lacks a conscience. These are not jobs that any of us can afford any longer. 

The reactions of the Sierra Club-Dacotah Chapter and Dakota Resource Council are spot on.

“A direct subsidy payment to oil companies to drill for oil is outrageous,” said Sierra Club spokesperson Wayde Schafer.

DRC Executive Director Scott Skokos said, “If they are going to do this, it represents essentially a large bailout to the oil industry that we as an organization would oppose.”

IV Words will verbalize the opinion a little more strongly. 

Subsidizing fracking for an industry that has literally pulled billions of dollars out from under North Dakotans, and doing it with coronavirus pandemic aid meant to help regular people, families and small businesses, amounts to social and climate criminality. 

Green outlined graphic indicating copyright 2019 Martin C. Fredricks IV

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Featured image by Anton Foltin via Shutterstock

Graphic of The Prairie Briefing

Post also featured in The Prairie Briefing from Prairie Action North Dakota.

3 Comments

  1. What an interesting problem: Big Oil can’t make a profit without being Subsidized?
    What does that mean in a “marketplace”?
    It means they’re doing the wrong thing!
    They need to get a real job.
    IF you can’t turn a profit on your product, dump that product and find one that is profitable… like say solar and/or wind energy! (it’s way past time)

    Oh, pardon me… their ‘product’ is GREED and it’s been profitable for them since before 1900.
    That’s when they killed solar the first time. At a World’s Fair, way back then.
    Then, there’s wind power, which has been used since forever. Ask the Dutch for one example.

    1. Where can I read about that, Bruce, the first killing off of solar? That sounds interesting. Thanks for your insightful comments, as always.

      1. I’ll have to dig up where i heard it.
        FMS, it was on something like NPR or a show like that, covering a World Fair that was held, (ims) in Europe, France, i think, sometime around the 1890s.
        A quick search didn’t net me a source (yet).

Let me know what you think!