How to get government handouts for oil companies and get away with it

By now, you’ve probably heard about the incredibly huge profits that the top oil companies raked in these past fewmonths: Exxon Mobil nabbed $10.7bn; Shell pulled in $6.9bn; Chevron, $4.5bn; and last but not least, BP, after accounting for oil spill losses still made out with $7.1bn.

We all know oil companies are good at making profit (and spewing carbon), but did you know that they also receive a yearly $4bn government handout in the form of taxpayer subsidies? Oil companies are double-dipping, taking from your pocket every time you go to the pump and pay $4/gallon for gas, and again out of your tax dollars.

And how is the US Chamber implicated in all of this mess? As you might imagine, since all of these companies are active US Chamber board members, donors or allies, their lobbyist are swarming Capitol Hill to make sure the $4bn in tax breaks the oil industry receives yearly stay firmly in place.

Here’s what Karen Alderman Harbert, a US Chamber official had to say at a recent House Natural Resources Committee hearing:

When Rep. Ben Ray Lujan (D-NM) asked whether Harbert supported the billions of taxpayer subsidies that go to Big Oil, she refused to give a yes or no answer. She instead tried to squeeze in a pitch for why Big Oil subsidies are necessary, even with billions in profits. She feels that denying those subsidies would be unfairly, “singling out the oil and gas industry and penalizing it.”

Unfair? Penalizing? The US Chamber’s record on oil and energy is clear: It’s “drill, baby, drill” and keep the taxpayer money flowing into theirs and oil company coffers, instead of shifting to a profitable, job-creating clean energy economy.

It’s time to set these companies straight and end oil subsidies by undercutting their Capitol Hill lobbyists, the US Chamber of Commerce. Click here to declare “The US Chamber of Commerce Doesn’t Speak for Me.”

Oily US Chamber connections and first quarter profits:

Exxon Mobil: Exxon Mobil was represented on the board of the U.S. Chamber’s Institute for Legal Reform (ILR), according to the ILR’s 2009 IRS Form990.
Profits: $10.7bn (up by 69%)

Royal Dutch Shell: Among other connections, in 2010, the U.S. Chamber filed an amicus brief defending Shell in a multi-million dollar punitive damages case.
Profits: $6.9bn (up 41%)

BP: BP is a member of the Chamber and the Chamber lobbied on its behalf after the company’s devastating April 2010 oil spill.
Profits: $7.1bn (up 17%)

Chevron: Chevron is a member and a donor to the U.S. Chamber. Chevron gave the Chamber an amount of $250,000 in both 2008 and 2009.
Profits: $4.5bn (up by more than 50%)

ConocoPhillips: Conoco Phillips is represented on the Chamber’s board.
Profits: $3bn (up by nearly 50%)