By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
WASHINGTON, D.C.--Exxons just-announced fourth-quarter earnings of a record $10.7 billion--up from $8.4 billion in the year-ago quarter--is the latest sign of the energy companies enormous rip-off.
Exxon's 2005 profit clocks in at $36.13 billion, up 42 percent from last year's.
The news comes after a year in which people struggled to meet rising prices at the pump, which are now destined to go higher because of continuing unrest in the Middle East. Even in the face of astounding price hikes in natural gas (nearly doubling in some parts of the country), the Bush administration and Congress are pushing up oil company profits at the expense of the consuming public.
In the energy bill signed by Bush last year, "Congress and the White House explicitly rejected efforts to improve fuel economy standards for our cars and trucks (which account for 70 percent of our oil consumption) or adequately fund fossil fuel alternatives," writes Public Citizen, a nonprofit group in D.C. that tracks energy prices.
Public Citizen calculates that the energy bill gives the oil companies $6 billion in tax breaks. Pumping money into political campaigns certainly seems to pay off. Since 2001 the oil industry gave federal political candidates $52 million with 80 percent going to Republicans.Company profits have been rising steadily along with the increased price of oil. Hurricanes Katrina and Wilma offered excuses to raise prices further. Public Citizen, a nonprofit group in Washington, D.C., that tracks energy prices, reports the top five oil companies have racked up $254 in profits since Bush became president.