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Reuters: Big oil firms asked to testify before US Congress

Tue Mar 11, 2008 8:56pm GMT

WASHINGTON, March 11 (Reuters) – A U.S. congressional committee on Tuesday asked the leaders of the world’s five biggest publicly traded oil companies to testify at a hearing in early April on why the companies still need federal tax breaks while earning huge profits off record oil prices.

The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming sent letters on the April 1 hearing to Exxon Mobil Corp (XOM.N: Quote, Profile, Research), Chevron Corp (CVX.N: Quote, Profile, Research), ConocoPhillips (COP.N: Quote, Profile, Research) and the U.S. units of BP Plc (BP.L: Quote, Profile, Research) and Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSa.L: Quote, Profile, Research).

“The American people deserve answers from Big Oil,” said Democratic Rep. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, who chairs the House committee.

“The top five oil companies made record profits last year, and yet are continuing to hold on to tax breaks that could be used to advance the clean fuels of the future. Americans are not going to find the answers at the bottom of a gas tank, so we will seek to bring the CEOs of these companies to Congress and to the American people,” Markey said.

The White House and the American Petroleum Institute trade group oppose a House-passed bill that must still be voted on in the Senate to repeal some $18 billion in tax breaks for big oil companies to help pay for the development of alternative energy sources like solar and wind power.

“It’s time for these top oil company CEOs to look Americans in the face and tell them why they can’t support new solutions,” Markey said.

A committee spokesman said the House panel had the authority to subpoena the company officials to testify if they refused to appear before the committee.

(Reporting by Tom Doggett, editing by Matthew Lewis)

© Reuters 2008 All rights reserved.

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