Energy and Commerce Chairman Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ) delivered the following opening remarks as prepared for delivery today at an Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee hearing titled, “Gouged at the Gas Station: Big Oil and America’s Pain at the Pump:
We are here today to get answers from the Big Oil companies about why they are ripping off the American people. At a time of record profits, Big Oil is refusing to increase production to provide the American people some much needed relief at the gas pump. Instead, they are buying back their stock at an estimated cost of about $40 billion this year. Big Oil is lining their pockets with one hand and taking billions in taxpayer subsidies with the other. Meanwhile, the American people are getting ripped off as these companies choose to keep production low so that their own profits stay high.
The American people are understandably fed up with these prices, and we are here today to demand answers from Big Oil about when they will finally start providing the American people some relief.
As oil prices rise and Americans are hurting, the six oil companies testifying today made more than $75 billion in profits between them last year. It’s also likely these companies will make even more this year. In fact, on Monday Exxon announced that its first quarter profits may be more than $9 billion – that’s higher than last year’s first quarter profits of $8.8 billion. All these profits while Americans are getting taken for a ride at the gas pump.
Even in the face of a devastating war in Ukraine and a bipartisan agreement to ban the import of Russian oil, several of the companies testifying today told their shareholders that they would rather make money off high prices in the market than invest in additional oil production.
If these companies really wanted to do something about high gas prices, they would put their profits to work by increasing supply. Right now, the oil and gas industry has more than 9,000 approved but unused drilling permits, and they should focus on using them. The problem is not a shortage of permits or land – Big Oil is choosing to keep supply low, prices high and their pockets lined with the hard-earned dollars of struggling American consumers.
The game Big Oil is playing is …….