US fossil-fuel firms laid off 1000s after receiving billions in tax benefits

US fossil-fuel firms laid off 1000s after receiving billions in tax benefits

Major US Fossil-fuel corporations have laid off tens of thousands of workers during the COVID-19 pandemic despite receiving billions of dollars in tax breaks from the government as part of its coronavirus relief measures, a report reveals.

A group of 77 companies involved in the extraction of oil, gas and coal received $8.2 billion under tax-code changes that formed part of a major pandemic stimulus bill passed by the US Congress last year, The Guardian reported Friday, citing data compiled by BailoutWatch, a nonprofit advocacy group that analyzes Securities and Exchange Commission filings.

Five of the companies, it noted, also got benefits from the paycheck protection program, totaling more than $30 million.

However, nearly all the energy firms began laying off their employees, with more than 58,000 people losing their jobs since the onset of the pandemic, or about 16 percent of the combined workforces.

According to the report, the leading beneficiary of the government assistance has been Marathon Petroleum, which received $2.1 billion in tax breaks.

Despite this, the Ohio-based refining company laid off 1,920 of its employees – nearly nine percent of its workforce — during the year 2020. As a comparative ratio, the report adds, Marathon has received about $1 million for each worker it made redundant.

The report further points to other major oil companies such as Phillips 66, Vistra Corp, National Oilwell Varco and Valero as the next largest beneficiaries of the tax-code changes, with all of them slashing their work forces in the past year.

In the case of the Houston-based National Oilwell Varco drilling supply company, 22 percent of its workers were fired, despite federal government tax assistance amounting to $591 million.


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