The Guardian has revealed that US fossil fuel companies have received at least $50m in aid, paid for by taxpayers, meant for struggling small businesses.

Uncovered by investigative research group Documented as well as journalists at the Guardian, a total of $28m has been provided to three coal mining companies, including two that have connections to officials in the Trump administration.

The other $22m is being paid out to oil and gas services and equipment providers and other firms that work with drillers and coal miners.

The Trump administration has repeatedly affirmed its commitment to the US coal industry, and there are whispers that a more substantial bailout of US fossil fuel companies could be on the horizon. But questions are now being asked as to why fossil fuel companies have received aid designed for small businesses.

Previously, public outcry saw professional basketball team the Los Angeles Lakers and fast food restaurant Shake Shack forced to return aid given to them that was meant to go to small businesses.