“On April Fools’ Day, the biggest joke of all is being played on American families by Big Oil,” so said Edward J. Markey chairman of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.
In front of him sitting like peas in a pod were the executives from Exxon Mobil, Shell Oil, BP America, Chevron and ConocoPhillips — which reported combined profits of $123 billion last year.
“Today, on April Fool’s Day, consumers all over America are hoping that the top executives from the five largest oil companies will tell us that these soaring gas prices are just part of some elaborate hoax,” said Markey in a written statement.
Rather than a hoax the oil companies shifted blame for high prices to issues outside their control, including growth in global demand, geopolitical events, material and labor costs, the fall in the dollar’s value and government restrictions on U.S. oil and natural gas resources. Anything, in fact apart from them.
Maybe the best bit of the hearing was when Markey quarreled with Simon over Exxon Mobil’s lack of investment in alternative energy projects. Simon said Exxon Mobil was giving Stanford University $100 million over 10 years to research “breakthrough” technologies.
“OPEC has us over a barrel and you’re saying you’re going to study the issue,” Markey retorted. “You can’t have it both ways, Mr. Simon,” Markey said. “You can’t be nickel-and-diming renewables at Exxon Mobil and simultaneously fighting our efforts to move over the resources to renewables to help this country break its dependence on foreign oil.”
Funnily enough climate change was hardly mentioned…