President Donald Trump is pushing to bail out oil and natural gas companies hit hard by the coronavirus and plunging oil prices, The Washington Post reports.
Trump has touted the boom in oil and gas production since taking office but the industries face a new threat after a price war between Russia and Saudi Arabia sent oil prices plummeting. White House officials worry that some shale companies could be “driven out of business.”
The White House is floating a new plan to provide low-interest loans to shale companies, many of which are already deeply in debt.
Trump said during a news conference on Monday that the White House would also seek to aid hospitality and travel industries hit hard by the coronavirus.
Trump supporters push for bailout:
Harold Hamm, a Trump supporter who heads Continental Resources, saw his company lose more than half its value on Monday.
He told The Post that the administration should consider “any action that the administration might take to protect and preserve American interests at this time from being unfairly disadvantaged by whatever government — and we’re talking governments here, whether it be Russia or Saudi Arabia.”
“I don’t want to prescribe what the president would or shouldn’t do. He’s very capable of handling this situation,” he said, adding that he wanted to discuss with Trump “how this could jeopardize those jobs and the economies in producing states and communities across America, from Pennsylvania to California and Texas to North Dakota.”
Officials worry about blowback:
A senior administration official “confirmed the relief for shale companies was under consideration but cautioned political blowback over the idea may eventually lead campaign advisers and others in administration to talk Trump out of it,” according to The Post.
Experts said the plan was mind-boggling.
“We are in the midst of a crisis where people are literally having to skip work and may miss paychecks or face medical debt,” Cornell University Prof. Robert Hockett told The Post. “The idea you would look to help out shale companies now is like something out of a satire or a bad movie. It’s absurd.”