Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, President Obama — March 8, 2012 at 1:47 pm

Headline you’ll never see: Big Oil takes cut in profits to help with gas prices


Patriotism has its limits (apparently)

Over the past few years, we’ve seen world record-breaking profits for the Big Oil companies, even when gas cost over $4 a gallon during President George W. Bush’s time in office. (And, yes, despite the rhetoric coming out of the mouths of nearly all Republicans at the moment blaming President Obama for the current cost of gas, you never heard them blaming Bush for that.)

The fact is, high gas prices mean high profits for oil companies.

Meanwhile, President Obama is trying to eliminate federal subsidies to these money-making monoliths. He’s also smart enough to know that global prices for oil which is a commodity will not be impacted by incremental increases in domestic oil production. He knows, as does any smart person, that there is no single thing that will change that. It will require what he calls an “all-of-the-above” approach (White House Fact Sheet HERE.) And that includes more domestic oil production.

Did you know that the number of domestic oil wells in the USA has increased 358% under President Obama? It’s true.

Two days ago, President Obama said this:

As a country that has 2 percent of the world’s oil reserves, but uses 20 percent of the world’s oil — I’m going to repeat that — we’ve got 2 percent of the world oil reserves; we use 20 percent. What that means is, as much as we’re doing to increase oil production, we’re not going to be able to just drill our way out of the problem of high gas prices. Anybody who tells you otherwise either doesn’t know what they’re talking about or they aren’t telling you the truth.

Here is the truth. If we are going to control our energy future, then we’ve got to have an all-of-the-above strategy. We’ve got to develop every source of American energy — not just oil and gas, but wind power and solar power, nuclear power, biofuels. We need to invest in the technology that will help us use less oil in our cars and our trucks, in our buildings, in our factories. That’s the only solution to the challenge. Because as we start using less, that lowers the demand, prices come down. It’s pretty straightforward. That’s the only solution to this challenge.

And that’s the strategy that we’ve now been pursuing for the last three years. And I’m proud to say we’ve made progress. Since I took office, America’s dependence on foreign oil has gone down every single year. In fact, in 2010, it went under 50 percent for the first time in 13 years.

You wouldn’t know it from listening to some of these folks out here — (laughter) — some of these folks — (laughter) — but a key part of our energy strategy has been to increase safe, responsible oil production here at home. Under my administration, America is producing more oil today than any time in the last eight years. Under my administration, we’ve quadrupled the number of operating oilrigs to a record high. We’ve got more oilrigs operating now than we’ve ever seen. We’ve opened up millions of new acres for oil and gas exploration. We’ve approved more than 400 drilling permits that follow new safety standards after we had that mess down in the Gulf.

We’re approving dozens of new pipelines. We just announced that we’ll do whatever we can to speed up construction of a pipeline in Oklahoma that’s going to relieve a bottleneck and get more oil to the Gulf — to the refineries down there — and that’s going to help create jobs, encourage more production.

So these are the facts on oil production. If somebody tells you we’re not producing enough oil, they just don’t know the facts.

His opponents have a different strategy, however. Mitt Romney, for example, just hired billionaire oil-and-gas executive Harold Hamm, a Republican donor and CEO of Oklahoma-based Continental Resources, to lead his energy policy advisory team.

Hamm, who ranks 36th on Forbes’s list of the richest people in America, last year gave more than $65,000 to the Republican National Committee and the party’s House and Senate campaign arms, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics.

It’s not too far-fetched to imagine that Mr. Hamm isn’t a big fan of renewable energy or conservation. Not when he’s got so much money on the line.

Here’s the Sierra Club’s take on it, from their Deputy Press Secretary Trey Pollard:

Of course, Romney’s been parroting Big Oil even before Hamm joined his campaign. He’s bemoaned the EPA’s safeguards against life-threatening pollution as “out of control,” even suggesting we’d be better off under the ineffective EPA of the George W. Bush administration. He’s consistently pushed for more drilling and mining in our wild lands. And, he’s rejected job-creating fuel efficiency standards and life-saving public health safeguards.

By cuddling up to Hamm, any lingering questions about Romney’s intentions are answered: he’d put the job of crafting energy and environmental policy directly in the hands of oil executives.

Don’t believe it? Take a look at what Romney wrote just days after bringing Hamm on board. In an editorial written for the Columbus Dispatch, Romney lays out his so-called energy policy – and it just happens to be the fulfillment of big oil’s wildest dreams. Paying lip service to jobs while proposing pollution without limits, Romney doubles down by pushing for more oil drilling in the pristine Arctic and off the coast of American beaches and fewer of the safeguards that help keep our air and water clean. He even proclaimed he’d approve the dangerous Keystone XL pipeline on his hypothetical first day in office.

With an oil executive as his right-hand man on energy, it’s no coincidence that Romney is reciting big oil’s talking points.

The old saying goes that you dance with the ones that brought you. That seems to be Mitt’s philosophy — and he’s definitely letting the oil companies lead.

So, whattya think? When the first quarter profit statements come out next month, do you think that the Big Oil companies will report decreased profits due to their patriotic efforts to keep gas prices low for Americans?

Hah! Hardly. I predict we’ll see even more record-breaking profits, in fact.

Meanwhile, Republicans in Congress will keep fighting to keep the federal subsidies in place for Big Oil while fighting President Obama tooth and nail against better regulations and increased investment in renewable energy.

Because they know who greases or, more accurately, oils their palms.

[Image credit: Sierra Club]