ExxonMobil led the way with a record-shattering profit of $11.68 billion—the highest ever posted by any U.S. company in the history of American commerce. Royal Dutch Shell ran a close second with $11.56 billion, BP raked in $9.5 billion, Chevron hit $5.98 billion, and ConocoPhillips posted $5.44 billion in profits.
It’s no surprise that consumers are none too happy about the growing disparity between their own fortunes and those of the oil companies, which are profiting so handsomely at their expense.
Congress Playing Politics with Oil Profits and Gasoline Prices
Democrats in Congress are trying to throw a little extra fuel on the flame of consumer anger by pointing out that oil-company profits went up even as production went down, and that oil companies have used their soaring profits to buy back billions of dollars worth of their own stock in an effort to drive up its value instead of investing in renewable energy.
Republicans have been blaming Democrats for the high gasoline prices for months, claiming that the Dems' refusal to support offshore drilling and oil exploration in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge have prevented the United States from reducing its dependence on foreign oil. Congressional Democrats see the new surge in petroleum profits as an opportunity to deflect the blame back toward the oil companies and their Republican cronies.
Consumers Pay Oil Companies Twice for the Same Product
All of this political gamesmanship aside, consumers have good reason to be angry. Not only are the oil companies racking up extraordinary profits, they’re doing it while continuing to enjoy generous tax breaks and economic subsidies paid for by the same people who are also paying exceptionally high prices at the pump. Essentially, consumers end up paying oil companies twice for the same product, first subsidizing their production and then buying the finished product at inflated prices.
Neither the Democrats nor the Republicans seem to have a realistic plan to lower gasoline prices any time soon, but eliminating tax breaks and subsidies that oil companies clearly don’t need—as the House tried to do in 2007—would recoup billions of dollars that could be invested in renewable energy research and development, conservation programs, and clean-energy technologies.
- Exxon’s Second-Quarter Earnings Set a Record – The New York Times
- Lawmakers to Big Oil: invest in alternative energy – Reuters
- High Gas Prices Drive Commuters Back to the City
- Bush Wants to Squeeze Oil from Stone
- U.S. House Votes to End Subsidies and Tax Breaks for Oil Companies
- Oil, Coal, Nuclear Power are Cornerstones of McCain Energy Plan
- ExxonMobil Produces Record Profits, Record Problems for the Environment and Consumers
- Water Now More Valuable Than Oil?