Oil Company Execs Deny Price Gouging to Congress
The top executives from the oil companies were hauled before Congress today to defend themselves against price gouging charges.
The chiefs of five major oil companies defended the industry’s huge profits Wednesday at a Senate hearing where they were exhorted to explain prices and assure customers they’re not being gouged. There is a “growing suspicion that oil companies are taking unfair advantage,” Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., said, opening the hearing in a packed committee room. “The oil companies owe the American people an explanation,” he declared.
Together the companies earned more than $25 billion in profits in the July-September quarter as the price of crude oil hit $70 a barrel and gasoline surged to record levels after the disruptions of Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., made the issue personal, noting that the executives were reaping multimillion-dollar bonuses on top of multimillion-dollar salaries as “working people struggle” to pay for gasoline and face the specter of soaring home heating bills this winter. “Your sacrifice appears to be nothing,” Boxer told the executives.
The head of the National Association of Manufacturers, former Michigan Gov. John Engler, criticized lawmakers for the way they handled the hearing. “Demagoguery and demonization will not reduce energy prices or solve supply problems in the long run,” he said. “Our energy supply and infrastructure have suffered from 25 years of increasingly restrictive government policies that have made it almost impossible to access and refine the resources we have. The Senate should dispense with the theatrics and get serious about Americas energy supply.”
The White House said that President Bush, too, is concerned about energy prices. “Energy prices have been too high and energy companies have realized significant increases in profits,” said spokesman Scott McClellan. “It’s important that the private sector be good corporate citizens and invest in the energy infrastructure and support those who are in need.”
What nonsense. It is not the responsibility of industry to build infrastructure and help the needy. Their job is to make profit for their shareholders.
The only thing sillier is the notion that CEOs of major companies should “sacrifice” because some people are having trouble affording $3 a gallon gasoline. What sacrifice has Sen. Boxer made?