Oil Executives Go Before Congress to Defend Large Profits


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CAPITOL HILL - Lawmakers will question oil company executives today (4-10-08) on how the oil industry can get energy prices down and shift focus to renewable energy.

The executives appear before a committee, in part to be asked why they want to keep tax breaks while raking in billions of dollars in profits.

Exxon Mobil, Shell, BP America, Chevron and Conoco-Phillips earned a combined 123 billion dollars last year because of rising prices.

The oil companies have argued that they need the tax breaks for continued investment in exploration, production and refinery expansion. Lawmakers say the profits they're making should be enough incentive.


Active Member
Gas prices put oil executives on the hot seat By Jim Snyder Posted: 03/31/08 07:54 PM [ET]

Oil executives return to the hot seat Tuesday as a House panel examines rising gasoline prices and the industry’s opposition to efforts to repeal $18 billion in tax breaks. The new money would be used to pay for the development of renewable energy.

For the industry’s critics, the House Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming hearing Tuesday is another indication of the industry’s waning clout on Capitol Hill, as was the House vote earlier this year that repealed tax breaks the industry now receives.


But the army of lobbyists who represent the oil and gas industry has so far successfully fought back in the Senate, which has yet to pass a similar tax bill, forcing renewable energy advocates to lower their own expectations.

Executives from ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, Chevron and ConocoPhillips were expected to testify before the House panel, which was created by Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) to highlight her caucus’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and the nation’s dependence on foreign oil.

Some oil lobbyists worried the hearing could turn raucous since prices at the pump have reached a new record — weeks before the traditional start of driving season on Memorial Day.

By coincidence or not, the hearing is being held the same day as “Fossil Fools’ Day,” a campaign by some environmental groups. They question the wisdom of continuing to use fossil fuels, which emit carbon dioxide when burned, as the mainstay for energy production when global temperatures are rising because of increasing greenhouse gas emissions.

Eben Burnham-Snyder, a spokesman for the House panel, said the hearing was not intended to coincide with the protests, but that additional U.S. Capitol Police will be there to handle any outburst.

One representative from an environmental group said protesters weren’t planning to disrupt the hearing but would add “a little bit of color” to the discussion.

“You won’t see somebody dragged off and arrested,” she said.

There could be a few uncomfortable moments for oil executives nevertheless. Lobbyists expected the panel to be sworn in, a tactic usually employed by committee chairmen to express their displeasure with witnesses. In this case, the scene is likely to generate unflattering photographs of oil executives guiltily raising their right hands.

The combination of record corporate profits — ExxonMobil made $40 billion last year — and high gas prices is irresistible political theater that has become a semi-annual event on Capitol Hill.

While the political appeal may be undeniable, Kurt Davies, research director at Greenpeace, said he hoped the hearing would focus mostly on the need to spend more to develop renewable sources of power.

“We are not inherently against high gas prices, so it’s tough to find a voice about it.”

Burnham-Snyder indicated the hearing would press the executives on their efforts to kill the House bill. “What we are trying to learn is which of these oil companies continue to defend the tax breaks.”

John Felmy, the chief economist at the American Petroleum Institute, offered philosophical and practical arguments against the House bill. It is unfair to single out one type of industry for a tax hike, he said.

Other industries, like newspapers, receive the manufacturing tax credit Democrats would take away from large oil companies, Felmy said.

Moreover, the practical effect of increasing taxes on the industry is an increase in prices. The idea that “raising the costs to produce petroleum products is going to help consumers doesn’t make sense,” Felmy said.

Felmy said rising gas prices were a simple consequence of rising crude oil costs. Crude oil prices account for 70 percent of the cost of gasoline, he said.

“The cost of manufacturing gas has increased more than the cost of the gasoline itself.”

After a two-week recess, Congress returns to a full workload Tuesday and the beginning of an eight-week push to the Memorial Day break. After that, most think, the chances Congress will tackle major legislation drop substantially due to the time demands of the approaching election.

Advocates for renewable energy acknowledge that it is unlikely the Senate will follow the House and adopt the $18 billion tax package.

Sean Garren, a clean energy associate at Environment America, said Sens. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), the chairman and ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, were considering extending breaks for the wind and solar industries and for energy efficiency programs to just one year.

That would take the bill’s costs down to as low as $3 billion, which may mean Democrats wouldn’t need the oil industry’s tax breaks as a “pay-for.”

Although renewable advocates once dreamed of an extension lasting five years or longer, which they consider necessary for some new technologies to attract capital, limiting extension holds some appeal in renewable circles, according to one utility lobbyist who supports extension. The lobbyist said it might be better for advocates to wait a year because a new administration may push for an even more aggressive package than what the current administration would accept.

Monique Hanis, a spokeswoman for the Solar Energy Industries Association, said her group continued to hold out hope for a multi-year extension.

Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and John Ensign (R-Nev.) were writing a bill that would provide multi-year tax credits to the renewable energy industry


Well-Known Member
Staff member
Isn't it funny how "The People" make a stand like this, and suddenly Congress gets off their ass and finally starts probing these oil companies?


Well-Known Member
They even said "trucker strike" and "congress investigation" in One sentence..huh??:headscratch:
I think they should add a few truckdrivers to the hearing..:popcorn::popcorn:


Drivers unite
OK, who caught that fat SOB's answer on how to fix the country's oil problems?

Please tell me I didn't hear him say "America needs to drive less". Please tell me he didn't say that.....


New Member
hello everyone, anyone who wants too show there support might want to check out aol home page. truckers protest u can vote on the protest if u suport it or not. so far 11000+ in suport and 1400+ not suporting. i must say this is the most i have seen everyone stick together mabey its not too late after all. good job everyone.

the saint

Active Member
they said that the high prices at the pumps are due to the rising prices of oil,ok...then how do they explain 123 BILLION dollars in profit?I dont get it.


Well-Known Member
I know its probably a little late, but BEFORE anyone gets too upset at the oil companies you'd better check out the BIG picture. Yes the oil companies made a huge profit. But, whole got the BULK of the profit from the price of oil? As they always say "FOLLOW THE MONEY TRAIL!" It only costs between $3-$5 to get the crude out of the ground. The oil companies make a profit of about $10 per barrel on the oil. Where does the rest go? Watch these videos and let me know what you think. YouTube - tonytt98's Channel

Be sure to scroll to the bottom and start with the 1st and work your way through. The problem with oil prices started way back in the 1960's! Watch and learn...

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