Wednesday, April 2, 2008

The Latest Congressional Oil Hearings

McClatchy sez Exxon-Mobil and friends came ready to rumble:

The oil industry denounced the hearing as "political theater" before it even started.

"Assaulting an American industry with punitive taxes, additional federal renewable fuel mandates that may have a negative impact on supply and actually increase greenhouse gas emissions, and the exploitation of its executives for just another Capitol Hill photo op is hardly a remedy that will produce the desired relief for consumers," said Charles Drevna, president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association...

Republicans and Democrats alike warned the executives that there would be a backlash against the companies and their record profits.

"The anger level is rising significantly," Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Missouri, told the executives. "Your approval ratings are lower than ours, and that's damn low."

Hello? There would be a backlash? The backlash is in full swing. Big Oil knows we hate them for how increased oil prices have raised the price of everything. I don't think they care what this has done to our economy. They know we'll continue to buy their product at incremental 8% price increases. Oil had nothing to lose by coming out swinging.

The longer they stall any action against them, the more cash they bring in. Like our government, the rationale for their actions morphs as required. Limited refinery capacity, Katrina, space slugs, leprechauns, blah blah blah, no longer cut it. McClatchy:

The oil companies stayed on the offensive, blaming high consumer gas prices on a myriad of factors, but mostly on speculation and the declining value of the U.S. dollar.
That's rich. A huge factor contributing to speculation and the declining value of the U.S. dollar would be the Iraq war. You know, the war where before we went in, our oil President "allowed" our Vice-President to have his little energy task force with Big Oil execs to carve up Iraq's underexploited oil reserves. Besides, if you don't think the oil companies flipped their dollars to euros some time ago, you are absolutely fucking nuts . That couldn't have helped the dollar any. Since last year Jay-Z has traded in his benjamins for bin Ladens (at least in his videos).More McClatchy:

Exxon, the world's most profitable publicly traded corporation, was most defensive about its profits, but took a hard line with the committee on legislation that would rescind an $18 billion tax break for the five biggest oil companies and use the money to encourage investment in renewable and alternative energy. In addition to Exxon, the committee heard from Shell, BP, Chevron and ConocoPhillips.

Overall, though, the oil companies tried to put a friendly face on the amount of money they're spending on developing U.S. oil and gas resources as well as alternative fuels research. But they also warned that for the foreseeable future, the U.S. — and the world — will continue to depend on fossil fuels even as new technologies are developed.

They are counting on it. Led by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts' Congressman Ed Markey the committee did their best not to let Big Oil off the hook. Bloomberg:

The hearing probed the industry's fight against the House proposal for new taxes to promote alternative energy. Though Markey's committee has no authority to advance bills, it is laying the groundwork for legislation that would cut planet- warming emissions of greenhouse gases from fossil-fuel use.

Taxes should be fair, stable and pro-competitive, principles these proposals violate,'' Exxon's Simon said.

Markey took Simon to task for investing $100 million on renewable energy, while raking in $40 billion in profit last year.

``You can't have it both ways,'' Markey said. ``You can't on the one hand be nickel and diming renewables at Exxon Mobil and at the same time be recording $40 billion in profits.''

``Putting more money into something does not necessarily equal progress,'' Simon said.
We are painfully aware of that Mr. Simon (see Iraq War).

With the greatest profit in the history of this industry, it flips my lid that Big Oil has done so little to develop alternative energy sources. British Petroleum may be leading the way but I hardly call natural gas an "alternative technology." It too is a finite resource.

Like global warming deniers (almost all of which are subsidized by Big Oil or are just bat shit crazy stupid), they are seriously shortsighted. They must know we're past peak oil, right? Take the "Oil" outta "Big Oil" and you have Big Nothing.

Maybe this generation of oil execs still counts on access to Iraq's vast oil reserves to postpone the massive investment of capital needed to change their business model. Or perhaps they sleep sound in the knowledge that whenever that day comes, they will have enough euros to buy a new model.