2007-06-08 / Community

Titus: Oil Companies Ripping Off Americans

Americans taking to the roadways last weekend to celebrate Memorial Day paid some of the highest gasoline prices in our nation's history. The reason for these outrageous prices is the well-documented coziness between oil companies and the Bush Administration - headed by President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, themselves former oil men.

The oil companies have been ripping off consumers to the tune of billions of dollars a year. And the Bush Administration continues its giveaways to 'Big Oil' - like sweetheart leases for offshore drilling rights and gigantic tax breaks - while turning its back on the increasing burden being borne by motorists across the country.

New York hasn't collected any more taxes off of these dramatic increases in the price of gasoline. In fact, last year the Assembly capped New York's gas tax, saving New Yorkers $175 million annually. The real problem here is that 'Big Oil' is ratcheting up of the price of gasoline and washing away the benefits motorists would have seen at the pump from capping the sales tax.

The facts regarding just one oil company are stunning:

After posting the largest profit in U.S. corporate history in 2005, Exxon Mobil - the largest oil company in the world not owned by a foreign government - announced that it topped that number in 2006; and Exxon Mobil's revenue of $337.6 billion topped the gross domestic product of all but 25 countries.

Exxon Mobil's extraordinary profits have continued this year as they recently reported first quarter '07 profits 10 percent higher than last year.

Moreover, no new conflicts have erupted and no natural disasters - like Hurricane Katrina - have occurred to justify price hikes of the magnitude we are seeing. Even the possibility of government action to lessen our reliance on oil has led petroleum companies to cut back on plans for needed investments in refinery capacity, thereby keeping gasoline prices high.

For these companies the only justification they need for keeping prices at record highs is the unofficial start of summer, the Memorial Day weekend, when more Americans take to our roads. Isn't it ironic that on the weekend set aside to commemorate the sacrifices of America's men and women in the armed forces, the oil companies fight too - fighting to squeeze every last dollar out of the wallets of hard-pressed motorists. Clearly, the President's calls for patience and sacrifice in this time of war do not extend to his oil company cronies.

Our so-called leaders in the White House gladly stand by and do nothing as 'Big Oil' bleeds consumers dry; we cannot allow that any longer. We need meaningful action from Washington to promote renewable energy sources, invest in mass transit, crack down on oil-company profiteering, and investigate possible antitrust violations by the industry. Congress is working on ways to do just that, but have received no cooperation from the executive branch.

It's time America stands up to 'Big Oil.' It's time to have President Bush and Vice President Cheney stand with us instead of the special interests.

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Why is this opinion piece in the community section on the web site. It should be posted in the editorial section. It should also have a brief explainer of who this Titus person is and what warrants him or her to have a valuable opinion on this subject.

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