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Oil companies profit as gas prices rise

A montage showing a hand holding money, an increasing bar graph, and a gas pump handle
Legislation recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would tax oil and gas company profits and redistribute funds to Americans who earn less than $75,000 per year.

A new Accountable.US report suggests the fossil-fuel industry is misleading the American public on the cause of rising gas prices.

Kyle Herrig, president of the watchdog group, said as oil and gas companies point fingers at the Biden administration, they continue to rake in profits and raise prices on consumers. He pointed to soaring windfalls gained by industry giants British Petroleum, Chevron, Exxon/Mobil and Shell.

"Combined, the four companies posted nearly $25 billion in quarter four of 2021, bringing their total profits last year to over $75 billion," Herrig reported.

Herrig noted instead of offering relief at the pump, oil companies have used profits for stock buybacks and shareholder dividends. The American Petroleum Institute and others are calling on President Joe Biden to increase domestic production by relaxing regulations and opening up new oil and gas leases on public lands.

Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Arizona, said the fossil-fuel industry is recycling old talking points about how more drilling and fewer regulations will bring down gas prices. He argued oil and gas companies are already sitting on 26 million acres of leases, and 53% are not producing.

"These same companies already have over 9,000 approved permits they can use whenever they want," Grijalva pointed out. "And the very companies with thousands of acres of existing leases and hundreds of unused permits are the same ones shouting that they need more land for drilling."

Herrig believes the current crisis in Ukraine is an important reminder of how a fossil-fuel-based economy is too unpredictable, and makes Americans dependent on the decisions of oil companies and hostile foreign leaders like Putin.

"We must invest in our future and secure real energy independence by speeding up the production of cheaper, cleaner energy here at home," Herrig contended. "So we aren't impacted by foreign supply-chain disruptions or conflicts overseas."

Accountable.US is a nonpartisan watchdog organization.