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Big Oil Spends More on Shareholder Expenditures, Dividend Payments Than Energy Investments

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G_j Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-12-11 12:01 PM
Original message
Big Oil Spends More on Shareholder Expenditures, Dividend Payments Than Energy Investments
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 12, 2011
11:12 AM
CONTACT: Public Citizen

Phone: 202-588-1000


http://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2011/05/12


Big Oil Spends More on Shareholder Expenditures, Dividend Payments Than Energy Investments, New Research Shows

Statement of Tyson Slocum, Director, Public Citizens Energy Program

WASHINGTON - May 12 - Big Oil CEOs testify Thursday before the Senate Committee on Finance to defend the trillion dollars in profits they have made in the past decade thanks to you, the American consumer. Some in Congress will defend the billions of dollars in tax breaks and royalty relief taxpayers give to these same companies each year.

Public Citizen recently crunched the numbers and found that Big Oils profits arent the only eye-popping statistic what the industry is spending its money on is equally astonishing. Big Oil lavishes more on stock buybacks, dividend payments, lobbying and marketing than on U.S. oil investments. Our research shows that since 2005, the largest five oil companies operating in the U.S. spent nearly half a trillion dollars buying back their own stock and paying dividends to shareholders. Thats more money than they spent investing in their U.S. infrastructure.

This contradicts the industrys insistence that its billions of dollars a year in tax breaks are needed to create jobs and keep gas prices affordable. In fact, Big Oils investment decisions are driven by market prices of crude oil, not U.S. tax policy.

Its time our leaders stop bowing to corporate interests and put an end to the take the money and run tactics of Big Oil that are nothing short of highway robbery.

While the speculation-fueled price of oil per barrel has continued to escalate, the underlying costs to produce oil havent. Consider this: On average, it costs $20 to produce a barrel of oil. Big Oil sells it to us for more than $100. This generates the massive cash flow that fuels oil companies profits and spending.

For more than a century, we have regulated the profits of corporate electric utilities because we decided long ago that suppliers of energy serve a unique public service and therefore require special regulatory treatment. Big Oil should be no different. High energy prices and our continued addiction to oil present significant economic and national security challenges.

Just imagine if the mountain of money Big Oil spent on stock buybacks, dividend payments, lobbying and marketing had been put toward installing millions of rooftop solar panels, deploying electric cars, investing in mass transit or helping those of us in financial need.

With oil prices high but the cost of drilling unchanged, Big Oil is imposing a tax on us at the gas pump. We must implement a windfall profits tax to divert the revenue from high gas prices from Big Oils profiteering, spending it instead on investments in rooftop solar, energy efficiency, the electrification of our transportation sector and mass transit. We do not seek to punish oil companies, but we should not allow ourselves to be victimized by their windfall profits, especially when that revenue could be used to strengthen Americas economic competitiveness, reduce consumer energy costs and help avert catastrophic climate change.

Lawmakers in Congress must remember who they are elected to represent, repeal Big Oils subsidies, enact a windfall profits tax and challenge the Big Oil CEOs to make public their IRS income tax payments so we can settle once and for all whether Uncle Sam taxes Big Oil too much or too little.

.###
Public Citizen is a national, nonprofit consumer advocacy organization founded in 1971 to represent consumer interests in Congress, the executive branch and the courts.


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jtrockville Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-12-11 09:24 PM
Response to Original message
1. That's what they're obligated to do: maximize profit for shareholders.
They have no obligation (fiduciary duty) to the citizenry, or oountry, or anything else, only the shareholders.
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L0oniX Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-12-11 09:34 PM
Response to Reply #1
3. What if their share holders were citizens of North Korea or the Taliban?
Hell ...their share holders might as well be Al Qaeda.
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badtoworse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-12-11 09:45 PM
Response to Reply #3
5. What difference does it make who owns the shares?
The shareholders have a right to expect management to act in their best interests. What would you have - background checks before they'll sell you stock?
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L0oniX Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-12-11 09:46 PM
Response to Reply #5
6. Enjoy your stay.
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badtoworse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-12-11 09:58 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. What is your problem? Millions of people own stock in big oil companies.
If you have any investments in mutual funds, you most likely own shares indirectly. Would you be OK owning stock in a company that didn't act in your interest? Why would anyone invest in such a company?
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jtrockville Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-12-11 10:05 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. Not only that, but most of these companies are international companies.
Edited on Thu May-12-11 10:06 PM by jtrockville
Even if they had an obligation to a country (which they don't), what makes us think they'd pick the US? Our reliance on oil is the culprit here. Not the folks who are in business to make money, and who are doing so well they break their own profit records quarter after quarter after quarter after quarter.
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badtoworse Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-12-11 09:41 PM
Response to Reply #1
4. You are correct
In that sense, they are no different than other publically held companies. For some reason, many on DU can't accept that such companies are supposed to operate in a way that maximizes profits for their owners (i.e. investors).
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L0oniX Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-12-11 09:29 PM
Response to Original message
2. Oil Bozo's won't invest if tax break is removed. BREAKING:They won't spend profits on it either!
Edited on Thu May-12-11 09:30 PM by L0oniX
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