Profiteering By Big Oil Companies to Blame for High Gas Prices

Price-Gouging Highlights Need for Windfall Profits Tax and a Radical Shift to Clean Energy

March 21, 2022

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While conservatives and oil executives blame President Biden for the global increase in oil prices, Big Oil companies have avoided any culpability, instead taking advantage of inflation and the Russian invasion of Ukraine to justify fleecing Americans to pay for high gas prices.

In a new video by More Perfect Union and in partnership with Climate Power, we listened to corporate earnings calls, searched through corporate financial reports, and took a deeper look at what’s really driving skyrocketing prices: oil companies and their history of making deals with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The video, voiced by environmentalist Bill McKibben, also explains the urgent need to pass and enact the Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax to put money directly back in the hands of working class Americans and why the U.S. must commit to a radical transition to solar, wind and clean energy.

Here’s what we found: 

  • Despite having the permits to pump oil domestically to increase supply and weather the storm after the U.S. banned Russian oil imports, oil company CEOs are deliberately restricting production so they can “return more cash back to the investor.”

  • For years, oil executives have worked closely with Putin and his allies, lobbying against U.S. sanctions, blocking solutions to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and violating sanctions to strike deals with Russia and their state-owned oil companies.

  • Even before the war, industry giants Chevron, Shell, BP and Exxon took advantage of inflated prices to make a combined $75.5 billion in profits.

  • This year, Big Oil CEOs are on track to send a near-record $88 billion back in buybacks and dividends to their wealthy shareholders in the year 2022 alone.

  • Since the build up to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, just 5 CEOs of major oil companies made $99 million from selling their shares.

The current crisis and the world’s dependence on Russian oil and gas are problems the industry helped create and they won’t be the ones to help us out of this crisis. The U.S. must boldly commit to a transition to clean energy to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels that have left the U.S. economy vulnerable to dictators like Putin.

In the meantime, a tax on windfall oil profits would help stop price-gouging by oil and gas CEOs and provide Americans with immediate relief at the gas station. The Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax introduced by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse would take excess profits and return the money directly to Americans via monthly checks. Recent polling by Hart Research found that 80% of voters—including 73% of Republicans—supported a windfall tax.

Watch: Profiteering By Big Oil Companies to Blame for High Gas Prices