THE AUSTIN CHRONICLE: STOP SUBSIDIZING BIG OIL
May 9, 2008
The Hightower Report
In 2006, the CEO of ExxonMobil exclaimed that, gosh, his corporation was rolling in so much profit that he simply didn’t know how to spend it all.
Well, one place worthy of major investment would have been research and development on alternative fuels to help America break its dependency on ever more expensive and ever more polluting oil. But, no go. Two years later, with oil more than $100 a barrel and Exxon’s profits topping $40 billion a year, the rationale for such an investment is even stronger. Yet, the oil giant recently rejected a congressional request that it start putting 10% of its earnings into alternative energy development.
OK, maybe we don’t even want Big Oil mucking around in solar, wind, hydrogen, and other renewables, since they would try to monopolize production and engage in the same kind of gouging they do with oil products. But here’s one small step Congress could take toward new energy resources: Repeal the $1.8 billion annual tax subsidy that the Bushites gave to the oil industry in the 2004 tax bill. Instead of continuing to put this freebie in the pockets of the Exxons, let’s invest these tax dollars in a renewable-energy future $1.8 billion would roughly double what Washington now spends for R&D on alternative sources.
Besides, with $100-a-barrel oil and the Top 5 corporations banking $123 billion in yearly profits, why are we taxpayers subsidizing them? We already pay a king’s ransom at the pump, so let’s cut off this tax giveaway they never should have gotten in the first place. But you can never overestimate oil company greed. Industry executives and lobbyists are now whining to Congress that, since oil prices might come down someday, they should be able to keep this subsidy as a cushion.
Hey, build your cushion the old-fashioned way with your rip-off profits.