Wednesday, April 02, 2008

You know you're getting old when...

I don't know how this happened. I remember in college rolling my eyes when a speaker lectured the audience on the importance of watching CSPAN. No way, I thought. Too boring. So I can't explain why in the world I'm hooked on CSPAN, other than taking this as a sign that I'm getting old!

At any rate, I thoroughly enjoyed watching yesterday's hearing by the House Select Energy Committee. The top 5 oil companies (i.e., Exxon, Shell, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP) were invited to answer questions about increasing oil prices. Seeing those guys squirm under pressure strangely reminded me of the olden days when I witnessed poor graduate students defend their dissertation. Yeouch!

And I learned so much from watching this 2.5 hour hearing! Here's some highlights and quotes that were particulary memorable:

Two cute cliches from Chairman Markey: "American people shouldn't have to break the bank to fill the tank;" and, "Tax breaks for big oil, tough breaks for American families."

Exxon Mobile earned $40 billion in profit last year. Combined, the top 5 oil companies earned $123 billion in profit last year.

BP was the only company to admit they participated in a secret task force meeting with Dick Cheney in 2001. Now they have to submit documents regarding that clandestine meeting.

In response to reducing oil prices, all companies unanimously agreed they need open access to drilling oil in the US. In addition, BP wants to bridge stronger connections with Canada as they're the "Saudi Arabia of North America sitting there ready to provide us with energy."

Exxon has contributed less than one-half of 1% for renewable energy. Their singular contribution has been to donate $100 million to Stanford over 12 years for research purposes.

Meanwhile, the oil companies have received $18 billion in subsidies from tax payers, and they oppose legislation that would divert those monies for the Renewable Energy Package that was passed last month.

Clearly, there's a disconnect here - even Exxon admitted that. Why the disconnect? Three reasons: a weaker dollar, geopolitical risks, and speculation.

The bottom line from big oil: Give us access to American oil.

The bottom line from Congress: Quit nickel and diming Americans.

1 comment:

Zachary Estes said...

This discrepancy between massive profits for the oil companies and increasing real cost to the consumer can only get stronger with time. As oil becomes more scarce, of course prices will continue to rise. But I view this as a positive: Only when the cost of gas REALLY hurts the consumer will alternative sources of enegery--not to mention travel (e.g., cycling, trains, etc)--be pursued with any enthusiasm.