Senator Stabenow Wants Taxpayer Subsidies to Oil Companies Ended

Senator Debbie Stabenow and four other Democratic Senators sent a letter to the CEOs of the Big Five oil companies urging them to admit that they no longer need taxpayer-funded subsidies. The heads of the country’s five largest oil companies are scheduled to testify tomorrow before the Finance Committee. Senator Stabenow and her colleagues held a news conference today at a gas station near the Capitol to announce their letter.

The letters went to Exxon Mobile, Chevron Corporation, Conoco Phillips, Shell and BP America.

With oil at more than $100 a barrel, these five companies make $2.8 billion a week in profits while taking home billions a year in subsidies.

The text of the letter follows:

Dear Sirs:

As members of the Senate Committee on Finance, we eagerly await your testimony at our panel’s hearing tomorrow. We urge you to take this opportunity to publicly admit that, given your companies’ prodigious profits, you no longer need taxpayer subsidies. We hope you will do the right thing for our country’s fiscal health and endorse their discontinuation.

We are sure you will agree that our nation’s mounting debt is a serious threat to our recovering economy. But if we are truly serious about cutting our deficit, it is imperative that we start by getting rid of wasteful and ineffective corporate subsidies that have outlived their usefulness. That is why we introduced legislation yesterday—the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act (S. 940)—that would end $21 billion in projected taxpayer subsidies for the five largest integrated oil companies. The former President of Shell Oil, John Hofmeister, had the courage to say, in no uncertain terms, that your companies no longer need these giveaways. We urge you, in your testimony tomorrow before the Senate Finance Committee, to acknowledge the same.

We agree with the vast majority of Americans that taxpayer subsidization of your companies is no longer necessary. When many of these tax breaks were passed into law, oil was less than $20 a barrel. Today, the price of oil is hovering around $100 a barrel. Because of the exponential increase in the price of oil, the companies you successfully manage have reported a combined total of $36 billion in corporate profits in the first quarter of 2011 alone. That amounts to a staggering $2.8 billion per week of profit.

Every single one of us has heard from constituents back home who are struggling with the rising price of gasoline. While families across the country are being squeezed, your industry is doing better than ever. And yet the U.S. government continues to dole out $4 billion a year in tax breaks to your companies. These subsidies are not sustainable, and we intend to end them.

We are hopeful that you will agree that S. 940 makes economic sense in our shared goal of putting our country back on the right fiscal track.


Senator Bob Menendez

Senator Chuck Schumer

Senator Debbie Stabenow

Senator Bill Nelson

Senator Ben Cardin