For the past five years, President Bush has pushed an energy plan written by and for Big Oil. It’s no wonder oil company profits are now soaring as consumers feel the pinch.
The world’s biggest oil companies recorded a combined $100 billion in profits last year. ExxonMobil just announced a $400 million retirement package for its outgoing chairman. The contrast between Big Oil and the ordinary Americans struggling to meet the high cost of energy couldn’t be starker.
Unfortunately, the president’s speech today offered more of the same tired proposals and little that will help consumers today or end our oil addiction in the future. Promises to power our cars with alternative fuels in the future make for a good sound bite. But we have the technology to make our automobiles get more than 40 miles to the gallon today—something the president himself ignored when he proposed weak fuel economy standards that will barely make a dent in our oil addiction.
The president also signaled his intention to push for rollbacks to clean air rules. It’s just like Big Oil and their allies in the Bush administration to deflect attention from their skyrocketing profits by putting the blame on environmental laws. The truth is, the real reason oil refining capacity is low is that the industry has kept it there to pad its bottom line. Oil companies have closed 30 refineries in the past ten years and EPA approved the only permit they applied for to build a new one. Economics—not environmental regulations—is the real reason refining capacity is low.
The one area where the president got it right was his call to repeal tax breaks that needlessly benefit Big Oil. The federal government continues to lavish billions in handouts on oil companies and even industry CEOs say they don’t need them.