Shill, Baby, Shill: Big Oil Still Getting Big Tax Breaks


Photo credit: tsuda via Flickr/Creative Commons

Yesterday I watched the U.S. House of Representatives shill for Big Oil again by passing a bill allowing more drilling in our waters with less oversight and accountability. At the same time, House leadership blocked a vote to end billions of dollars in government tax breaks for the industry.

Meanwhile, the oil industry just posted billions in profits in their first quarter reports, with Exxon reporting $10.7 billion in profit, Shell raking in $6.9 billion, Chevron posting $6.2 billion, Conoco Phillips announcing $3.03 billion and BP taking in $5.5 billion.

When is our country going to end special treatment for Big Oil and get serious about moving beyond oil?Polls show that, overwhelmingly, Americans want to end Big Oil's tax breaks:

  • A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 74 percent of voters support eliminating tax breaks to oil companies.
  • A March 2011 survey by polling firm Greenberg Quinlan & Rosner Research revealed almost 70 percent of Americans supported ending Big Oil subsidies even when they were presented with opposition arguments that it would increase the price of gas.
Big Oil is raking it in, and hard-working Americans are feeling the pain at the pump and then watching the oil industry benefit even more on tax day to the tune of $4 billion in subsidies.

But the House leadership continues the giveaways because they're getting something in return as well. Four of the five Big Oil companies have since given $280,000 in campaign contributions to their congressional benefactors - a small price to pay, considering their return on investment at taxpayers' expense. (Treehugger's Brian Merchant had a good piece on this yesterday, too).

We all thought House Speaker Boehner had a moment of clarity when he recently said he was willing to end the oil industry's tax breaks. He told ABC News that, "We're in a time when the federal government is short on revenues. We need to control spending but we need to have revenues to keep the government moving. And they [Big Oil] ought to be paying their fair share."

Boehner bravely held that position for about five minutes before recanting.

We need real leadership in Congress that will stand up to Big Oil and support the American people's call to eliminate Big Oil tax loopholes.

It's time to invest in 21st century clean, efficient vehicles and transportation. We need to build 21st century transportation infrastructure and make cars that get at least 60 miles per gallon by 2025, trucks with a 15 percent improvement in fuel economy, and we need to invest in electric cars. Domestic manufacturing of these cars and trucks and a modern transportation network will dramatically cut our dependence on oil, save consumers thousands of dollars at the pump, create jobs and restore America's manufacturing might.

One thing remains clear: we cannot afford the status quo. America's leaders need to act immediately to break our nation's dangerous dependence on oil.

More on oil dependency
Our Dependency On Oil (Videos)
Obama: "We can't just drill our way out of the problem"