Thune Protecting Billions in Taxpayer Giveaways to Big Oil Companies

Senator John Thune (R-SD) is protecting billions of dollars in taxpayer funded giveaways to Big Oil companies instead of tackling the deficit.

Thune indicated his support for billions in taxpayer funded giveaways to big oil companies in a statement with Environment and Energy Daily after the Democrat-controlled Senate moved to introduce legislation eliminating federal subsidies for the five most profitable oil companies in the world and directing the savings to deficit reduction.

Ben Nesselhuf, Chairman of the South Dakota Democratic Party, questioned Thune’s commitment to lowering the federal deficit. “Every year the federal government spends billions of dollars on unneeded subsidies to big oil companies making tens of billions of dollars a year.”

“What Thune is saying to South Dakotans is that the billion dollar profits of the top 5 oil companies are more important than the burdened pocket books of South Dakotans and the burgeoning deficit of the federal government,” Nesselhuf continued.

The price of gasoline has hit consumers hard as profits at the top five oil companies have surpassed $1 trillion over the last decade. In the first calendar quarter of 2011, for example, ExxonMobil reported profits of nearly $11 billion in the first quarter of 2011, a 69 percent increase; Shell reported profits of $7 billion, ConocoPhillips reported profits of $3 billion; Chevron reported $6.2 billion; and BP reported $5.5 billion. Combined, they earned $32 billion so far this year.

“Thune is protecting billions in taxpayer funded giveaways for the biggest oil companies making record profits at the expense of South Dakotans who are getting squeezed at the pump,” Nesselhuf concluded. “South Dakotans have already shared the sacrifice of federal budget cuts. Thune should urge the top five big oil companies to share the burden too.”

Senator Robert Mendendez (D-NJ) introduced legislation late this April to close billions of dollars in tax loopholes that big oil companies no longer need. Jim Mulva, the CEO of ConocoPhillips, said in federal testimony, “with respect to oil and gas exploration and production we do not need incentives.” Mendendez noted in a memo circulating the Senate that skyrocketing oil profits have led to larger stock buybacks and dividends instead of further investment in drilling and exploration.

The Joint Committee on Taxation, a nonpartisan committee of the U.S. Congress, says the legislation, Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act (S. 258), would raise $33 billion over ten years. All savings from the bill would be directed to deficit reduction.

Contact Chairman Ben Nesselhuf at 605-271-5405 or ben@sddp.org.
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Background:

Thune Protects Taxpayer Funded Giveaways for Big Oil

Slesinger, of NRDC, predicted that “more than a few Republicans” might be willing to back the bill given their party’s vocal championing of cutting the $1.6 trillion federal deficit. Yet one member of Senate GOP leadership threw cold water on that prospect last night. “Obviously we’re all concerned about deficit reduction, but we also all believe that it’s a spending issue and not a revenue issue,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) said of his conference. The South Dakotan also took issue with Democrats’ choice to roll back benefits for only major oil firms, a move geared to undercut GOP claims that small and independent producers could be hurt. “Just singling out five companies, that to me seems like an unusual strategy,” Thune added. “If it’s a right policy, it ought to be right policy for everybody.” (Full text available at request.) [Environment and Energy News, 5.10.11]

Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act

Senate Democratic leaders and several politically vulnerable members of their caucus are introducing legislation Tuesday that would repeal several tax breaks for the largest oil companies… Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), the lead sponsor, is circulating a letter to colleagues – obtained by The Hill – that seeks to capitalize on recent statements from some top House Republicans that suggest they’re open to rolling back some industry incentives.

“Currently, instead of using their enormous revenues to invest in drilling as they say they are, the Big 5 oil companies are buying back stock and issuing dividends.” (Full letter available on hyperlink) [thehill.com, 5.10.11]

Big Oil Does Not Need Incentives

James Mulva, CEO of ConocoPhillips giving federal testimony on Energy Prices and Profits “Senator, with respect to oil and gas exploration and production we do not need incentives.” [Joint Hearing, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, 11.9.05]

Savings of $33 billion over 10 years.
Menendez’s Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act has been scored by the Joint Tax Committee and would raise $33 billion over 10 years. The bill contains important safeguards to allow refineries and oil companies with yearly revenues of less than $100 million to retain certain tax credits and deductions. [Official Press Release, 4/7/11]

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