August 1, 2008

Obscene Oil Company Profits Cost Rhode Islanders at the Pump, Whitehouse Says

Consumers Could Pay Nearly $200 in “Oil Profits Tax” to ExxonMobil This Year Alone

Washington, D.C. – Oil giant ExxonMobil’s record-high second-quarter profits amount to a quarterly tax of $47 on every car and truck in the country, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) said today.

“If you’ve ever wondered where the $60, $80, or $100 that it costs to fill up your tank goes, take a look at this: as gas prices have risen, oil company profits have soared,” Whitehouse said in a speech on the Senate floor. “If Exxon continues to reap profits at this level, in 2008 alone, you will pay a $188 oil profits tax to ExxonMobil – and that’s not counting the hundreds of billions of dollars in profits raked in by the four other major oil companies doing business in this country.”

As Americans struggle with crippling gas prices, the Rhode Island Democrat spoke out against giant oil companies that amass enormous profits but do little to invest in the alternative energy technologies that will help end our dependence on fossil fuels. Though Exxon announced $11.68 billion in profits in the last three months, the company has spent just $20 million in the last four years on research and development of alternative and renewable transportation fuel technologies. A recent Wall Street Journal article reported that the big oil companies spent $52.5 million on advertisements to burnish their image in the first quarter of this year – that’s an annualized rate of $200 million in ads.

In his remarks, Whitehouse called on President Bush to stop propping up oil company profits and take immediate action to lower gas prices by releasing about 70 million barrels from our Strategic Petroleum Reserve, an emergency oil supply that the Bush Administration has filled to record capacity over recent years. Such a sale would immediately lower gas prices and would generate over $8 billion – money that could be used to invest in alternative sources of energy.

“Americans are struggling to pay for Exxon’s record-breaking profits, and they are tired of Republicans’ refusal to support real solutions. “I urge the President to end the rhetoric and do something to lower gas prices today,” Whitehouse said. “We tried to pass the Defense Authorization bill to support our troops yesterday, and the Republicans voted against the bill, abandoning our troops for Big Oil. Big Oil is making big money, and that’s the Republicans’ priority.”


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