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Turning oil companies into dinosaurs

The Virginian-Pilot: Turning oil companies into dinosaurs

The Virginian-Pilot
© Sunday April 6, 2008

IT’S SO EASY to pick on the big oil companies, especially when gas prices hit $4 a gallon and ExxonMobil executives are nursing hangovers from the party to celebrate their $40 billion in profits last year.

But five executives from Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and ExxonMobil had one plaintive message for Congress last week: “Don’t blame us.”

They found fault with the planet’s several billion people as well as with its cud-chewing critters. China and India, they said, are gobbling up too much petroleum for their factories. Iraqis are letting the daily threat of suicide bombings distract them from drilling. Caribou are hogging the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

Indeed, blame for the current energy crisis is shared by everybody who drives a car or owns anything made in a factory. But most of them aren’t getting rich. In fact, most of them are getting poorer, thanks to rising energy prices, the ones making the oil guys rich. Pizza deliverymen and taxi drivers are working longer hours for less. Truckers are striking to protest diesel prices. Restaurants are losing customers.

When oil executives say “don’t blame us,” what they really mean is “don’t expect us to find the solution.”

They’ve fought legislation that would shift their tax breaks to companies that develop wind and solar power. They dodged when members of Congress asked them to earmark 10 percent of their profits for their own research on alternative energy.

The world is running out of oil, and those who are gurgling the last gallons of crude have an obligation to help figure out what comes next, unless they want to become dinosaurs themselves.

Sure, they could just retire with their golden parachutes and let the rest of us figure it out. But if that’s the plan, then they’ll need to spend some of their enormous profits to buy thicker skins.

http://hamptonroads.com/2008/04/turning-oil-companies-dinosaurs

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