Exxon's Profits Hit $31 Billion So Far This Year, Yet Big Oil Subsidies Flourish

Steve Snodgrass via Flickr/CC BY 2.0

I'm not sure this can even be considered news anymore, given the regularity with which it happens: ExxonMobil has posted massive earnings. Again. The oil giant claims quarterly earnings of $10.3 billion dollars, bringing the yearly total thus far to $31 billion. And yet, this obscenely profitable company still gets annual federal handouts to the tune of billions of dollars a year. To make matters worse, leading GOP presidential candidates' energy plans include expanding federal handouts to Big Oil.

Rising oil prices worldwide mean rising profits for the major oil companies. Rocket science it ain't. Here's a report from CNN Money (via Think Progress Green):

Exxon Mobil reported quarterly earnings of $10.3 billion on Thursday, a surge of 41% from a year earlier. Why? Higher prices for oil and natural gas. Profit at the oil company soared compared to the same period a year ago, when it was $7.4 billion. Per-share income climbed to $2.13 per share from $1.44 in the prior year. And revenue rose to $125.3 billion from $95.3 billion in the year-ago quarter, the company said.

Exxon's not the only one hitting it big: BP too has doubled its earnings from the same quarter last year, pulling in $4.9 billion in Q3. And according to CNN, "Chevron is scheduled to report third-quarter earnings on Friday. The company is expected to announce revenues of nearly $70 billion, an increase of 40% from a year ago, and net income of $6.7 billion."

And yet, harsh resistance remains to anyone who'd dare suggest the nation's budget would benefit from snuffing out generous oil subsidies. A coalition of 35 Congressmen motioned to kill $122 billion in gifts to the oil companies, but the resolution is unlikely to pass. Furthermore, a huge majority of Americans want to see oil subsidies end. Still, no dice -- oil companies and their deep pockets are extremely adept at buying favors inside the beltway, where public opinion is having increasing difficulty penetrating. Oil subsidies, as I often say, are incredibly difficult to kill. But announcing your aim to acquire more of them, as Mitt Romney has done, is a good way to gin up support amongst the conservative political establishment's key donor base.

More generally, they provide yet another example of the pernicious influence corporate cash has on our democracy -- and a powerful reminder that the greenest political mission we could ever undertake would be to meaningfully limit the role of money in our politics.

Tags: Congress | Oil

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