National Consumers League

Tax breaks for big oil when gas is 4 bucks a gallon?


By Sally Greenberg, NCL Executive Director Oil executives earlier this month testified before Congress that they don’t think they should have to lose their $2.1 billion in tax breaks just because they are making record profits. One exec even claimed ending oil company subsidies would be “discriminatory.” Testifying were execs at Exxon Mobil, Shell, Chevron, BP, and ConocoPhillips. Collectively these companies racked up $35 billion in first quarter profits and will set record profits for the year. Excuse me, but gas is well over $4 a gallon for most working Americans. This prompts two questions. First, why must the oil companies charge us so much at the pump if they are making record profits? Secondly, why in the heck should the American taxpayer be subsiding oil company profits? In mid-May the Senate blocked a Democratic bill to repeal $21 billion in tax breaks and apply the savings to deficit reduction. The 52-48 vote was eight shy of the 60 votes needed to advance a bill that would nix incentives for ExxonMobil, Shell, ConocoPhillips, Chevron, and BP, according to The Hill. But good for New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez. He is a sponsor of the bill to end oil subsidies and at the hearing he took ConocoPhillips’ top dog to task for calling the bill “un-American.”  The exec refused to apologize and that is how things were left. But the fact remains that there is no justification at all for asking average Americans to pay twice for their gas – once at the pump and again by subsidizing the oil companies through tax breaks.