On Capitol Hill, House lawmakers grilled executives from some of the largest oil and gas companies Wednesday, accusing them of price gouging consumers even as they rake in record profits. Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee accused fossil fuel executives of exploiting the pandemic and the war in Ukraine to pad their bottom lines. This is Committee Chair California [sic
] Democrat Diana DeGette — Colorado Democrat Diana DeGette.
REP. DIANA DeGETTE: If the price of gas is driven by the global market, why is the price of oil coming down, but the price at the pump is still near record highs? If it’s an issue of supply and demand, wouldn’t that be reflected in the global price of oil, as well? Something just doesn’t add up.
That’s Colorado Democrat DeGette. Meanwhile, Republicans used Wednesday’s hearing on high gas prices to support the Big Oil companies. This is Republican Ohio Congressmember Bill Johnson.
REP. BILL JOHNSON: For heaven’s sakes, they’re blaming you for high gas prices, for inflation, for bad weather and all the world’s problems that their failed policies are actually causing. Your industry has a lot to be proud of.
Executives from ExxonMobil, Chevron, BPAmerica, Shell USA and other companies testified virtually during the hearing, even though they were invited to appear in person. ExxonMobil CEO Darren Woods claimed the solution to higher prices at the pump is to increase oil and gas production.
DARREN WOODS: Today Russia provides roughly 10% of the oil needed to meet global demand and about 30% of Europe’s natural gas demand. A loss of this volume will be much more significant than the impact of the oil — Arab oil embargo and would represent the largest supply disruption in the history of our industry. Unfortunately, there’s no quick fix. But in the near term, the answer is straightforward: If we want to reduce prices, we need to increase supply.
This comes as a new report
by Friends of the Earth, Public Citizen and BailoutWatch looked at the financial records of ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips and others and found they’ve increased stock buybacks and dividends since Russia invaded Ukraine, enriching investors instead of reducing oil and gas prices for consumers. BailoutWatch data analyst Christopher Kuveke said, quote, “The actions of these oil executives make it clear that no matter how much they groan about the Biden Administration’s environmental policies and blame Putin for high prices, their focus remains entirely on lining their own pockets,” he said.
For more, we’re joined by two guests: Bill McKibben, author, educator, environmentalist, founder of Third Act, which organizes people over 60 for progressive change, also co-founded 350.org
, and, in Ukraine, we’re joined by Svitlana Romanko, the Ukrainian climate activist and longtime environmental lawyer, who wrote a Los Angeles [Times] op-ed
with McKibben last month headlined “The Ukraine war is a decision point — banks should stop funding the fossil fuel industry forever.”
We welcome you both back to Democracy Now!
Bill McKibben, let’s begin with you and the Big Oil hearing. What was your takeaway?