Washington, D.C. — In the latest effort by Big Oil to misinform the public about the industry’s effort to avoid paying its fair share while taking government handouts, American Petroleum Institute (API) President Mike Sommers misled the audience of a recent podcast, claiming that “even in the worst parts of that pandemic, you didn’t see our industry, you know, asking for bailouts. In fact, we were fighting bailouts.”  

Sommers’ claim is demonstrably false: API, Big Oil’s biggest trade group, lobbied on tax provisions in the CARES Act, resulting in its member companies receiving a total of $3.1 billion in CARES Act tax breaks. Overall, its members benefitted from pandemic aid programs to the tune of at least $3.4 billion, including bailouts from the Paycheck Protection, Economic Injury Disaster Loan, and Main Street Lending Programs 

“Big Oil wants the public to believe it didn’t take any bailout money during the pandemic, but in reality, the oil and gas industry took home billions in aid under the Trump administration even as workers and families struggled to hang on,” said Kyle Herrig, president of government watchdog Accountable.US. “Oil industry leaders like API President Mike Sommers can spout all the rhetoric they want, but the facts don’t lie: taxpayer dollars funded Big Oil companies to the tune of billions — only for them to turn around and lay off workers while lining their executives’ pockets.” 

Recent reporting from S&P Global shows that top oil and gas executives saw their personal compensation increase in 2021, even as they warned that Biden’s policies would hurt the industry. In some cases, CEO pay skyrocketed by triple digit percentages even as employees were furloughed. CNBC also reports that Chevron and Exxon have brought in banner earnings in the second quarter of 2021.  

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