Big Oil’s biggest quarter ever: $51.5B in all. By John Porretto. AP Business Writer.

So far Speaker Pelsosi has kept nervous Democrats in line on big oil’s plan’s to use the high price of gasoline to gain leases in fragile off and on-shore public lands.

The counterattack should be easy. The headline above shows the way.

In addition, look at the polling data. Who gets the greatest blame from the public? See Pollingreport.com.

It would be fun to do a little ad on the lifestyles of the oil company CEOs.

As for the substantial number who want to see more drilling off-shore and especially on-shore, opponents need to make ads showing what these lands are like and where.  It’s easy for someone to say give them more leases on public lands; but not so easy to say lease Grand Canyon National Park.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

26 Responses to Big Oil makes the most money ever

  1. avatar SmokyMtMan says:

    Well, making a profit is what America’s entire economy was founded upon. It is the very basis of our society.

    Nothing wrong with that, really, is there? Oil companies on average have profits of about 8.5 cents per dollar in sales. For the Dow 50, they average 11.5 cents of profit for every dollar.

    However, the oil companies are the only companies that have Congress and some citizens crying for the establishment of a windfall tax on their current profits..

    Also, do these same people that are saying that oil companies profits are too high now, ever offer to help the oil companies when they were losing billions of dollars in the 1990’s when oil was $9 a barrel?

    I didn’t think so. Face it, the energy problems aren’t the fault of the oil companies. They are in business only to provide oil to the markets. That’s it. They aren’t charities, or public works departments, they are publicly held companies.

    It is the job of our elected leaders to establish responsible energy policy and to initiate programs and incentives that will move us to alternative fuels.

    Don’t be confused as to who got us into this mess: American politicians over the last 30 years.

    Not Exxon, or BP, or whatever oil company you feel you should blame. And who elected those politicians?

    Look in the mirror. We as voters are to blame, but I suspect most people find it much easier to blame everyone and everything but themselves for out current predicament.

  2. avatar John says:

    Yeah we should just stand by and watch China who is already drilling off the coast of Florida!!@! It’s being drilled already so why shouldn’t we tap the oil ourselves. The EVIL oil companies are made up primarily of stock holders. Many a 401K’s have Oil stock. You Might even have some in Oil yourself. It’s morally high ground to be against it, But like it or not it’s getting drilled just depends on whether we benefit from it.

  3. avatar Moose says:

    China is NOT drilling off the coast of Florida, John. Cuba has hired a Brazilian firm to conduct exploratory drilling only. Dick Cheney was wrong – again!

  4. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    making a profit is not the basis of our society.

    we have been “offering to help” the oil companies all along – it’s public dollars that were appropriated to develop America’s oil-based infrastructure (roads, etc.) – and it’s public dollars that maintain it to this day. it’s public dollars that fight wars to open distant markets to exploration and extraction – and even when it doesn’t come to war – it’s public dollars that build and maintain military readiness leveraged via soft-power diplomatic negotiations – public negotiations with foreign leaders to open oil markets for private companies to explore/extract. without these public expenditures – Big Oil’s market would be a fraction of what it is. it’s many public dollars that pay for the consequences of environmental racism/classism associated with congested urban areas disproportionately exposed to the environmental consequences (air pollution) of oil-dependent technologies (cars, etc) when those less-privileged elders and children hack their way to the hospital. it is and has been oil companies that use their local and federal lobby to kill many a public-transport bill, many a regional and cross-regional rail project, many alternative transportation options values all across this country that would serve public rather than private interest. how many public dollars does anyone suppose will spent spent mitigating the consequences of global warming ?

    the list of public resources that have been leveraged to line the pockets of the Oil Industry could extend forever. There’s been plenty of public support – it’s about damn time the public got recognition for its contribution – and now, knowing the consequences of these contributions – cashed in on its due and shut it’s doors to further extension of public resource (lands, subsidy, etc.) to Oil Industry Private Profiteers who have looted the public for all this time and pretend that it’s their own.

    “Profit” ? The “Profit” these people enjoy results from the alchemy of misery and environmental devastation they have been able to squeeze into “profit” by so successfully externalizing the real costs borne through the entire life-duration of their product. The geo-political costs, the environmental costs, the public infrustructure costs, etc. etc.

    Don’t be confused as to who got us into this mess: American politicians over the last 30 years.

    And whose marching orders were those politicians goose-stepping to ? Try K-street. “NotExxon, or BP, or whatever oil company you feel you should blame” ? So who met with Cheney when he had those high level energy policy meetings ? Who was that ?

    The public ought certainly wake up – but the public is not culpable for the aggressive motives of the Oil Companies. The public is not culpable for high-level decision-making made behind closed-doors during the entire duration of the decades that you cite SmokyMtMan. The people who actively pursued the policies ought be culpable for the consequences – and that means Oil Companies and their politicians.

  5. avatar Wyo Native says:

    One big problem with the Oil Industry is how much the Government makes. The Gov makes so much money off of the oil industry they show an unwillingness to do the right thing, especially when they can push an agenda of Windfall Profit Taxes.

    Yesterday ExxonMobil posted an all time record for quarterly profits by any US company. Their profit was $11.68 Billion, and you can find this fact all over the internet and television.

    But what you will hardly ever hear is while they made a record profit, they also payed a record amount of taxes for one quarter to the Government of $32.36 Billion.

    Another interesting fact is last year ExxonMobil by itself payed more income taxes to the Government than 50% of our citizens.

  6. avatar Wyo Native says:

    One last thing, a few weeks ago I mentioned on another thread that Obama would eventually Flip/Flop when it comes to drilling, especially if he felt it could help him win.

    Well, the Flip/Flop has started.
    http://ap.google.com/article/ALeqM5isOFwdbq0tsqatW6vJpkDRTI1gMgD929OA3O0

  7. avatar SmokyMtMan says:

    Brian,

    You use the word “public” many times in your statement. And I agree that it is accurate and appropriate use of that word, so the question then that follows is: all this “public” assistance that the oil industry receives, who does it benefit?

    The PUBLIC, as well as the oil industry. Oil is at the very basis of every American’s existence, far more than most realize. A National Geographic front page once depicted a family’s home possessions in their front yard. They had removed everything in the house that contained oil or used oil during the process of manufacturing it, and needless to say, almost every single possession that family had was in their front yard.

    Oil is a main driver of our economy, and of our entire transportation sector, both personal and commercial…..so the fact our government has “helped” oil companies get their product to the American people is hardly surprising, is it?

    We, as American citizens and consumers, have demanded that oil be made readily available to us. The overwhelming majority of Americans want the supply of oil to continue unabated; this is without question. It is and has been a pillar of American life for over a century.

    I don’t think Americans care one whit about the so-called “externalized costs” of the oil industry. This society demanded the cheapest oil possible without complete environmental destruction, and it got it. For 100 years. I care, and you care, but we are in the extreme minority on that.

    We cannot elect Bush and Cheney to the White House and then be surprised when they take positions that greatly favor energy companies and not conservation or alternative energy. I mean, was there any doubt what these men did for a living before they were elected? I think not.

    Voters elected them to 2 terms, and as a voter, the majority rules, and in a Democracy we get what we ask for.

    The only thing that will change anything is if Americans begin to hold our political leadership responsible. We have yet to do that in my lifetime.

    You can’t blame Bush for being a supply-side guy, get real. However, you can blame the American voter for giving Bush 8 years in the White House. In a democracy, whose fault is the government? Honestly?

    And when I wrote “It is the very basis of our society”, I meant our society’s standard of living. I typed too fast, apparently.

  8. avatar Save bears says:

    This has turned into a very interesting interchange between those who are normally on the same side of an issue!

    WOW!

  9. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    SmokyMtMan,

    the public’s investment in the profit of Big Oil skews the claim of these “profit” margins being justifiable when the well-being of the public is being kicked to the curb – even if we were just to say the economic well-being. a wind-fall tax or a carbon tax in an era of record profit when the public is taking it in the economic pants would be more than justifiable give such historical public investment. the public has right to that – oil companies ought not have right to unique economic benefit when it was not uniquely their private investors organizing the capital that made those margins possible – the public shared that burden then, the oil companies ought share our burden now.

    whether i voted for George W. and any number of other politicians in the past 30 years because they seemed like a nice guy to have a beer with, i agree with the war, i lost my job, i hate homosexuals or for any number of other reasons people vote the way that they do does not constitute a wholesale democratic endorsement of the activities of the Oil Industry or any other interest – that’s just not how our democracy works.

  10. avatar TPageCO says:

    Smoky – we should share a beer sometime… I’m with you on this, man. If we start doing things to reduce the omnipresence of petroleum in our lives, the oil companies won’t have nearly the influence they do now, and neither will loonies like Ahmedinejad or Chavez either, for that matter. The only things I blame the politicos for are aiding the destruction of public resources in North America and discouraging alternative energy research.

    Personally, I’m trying to get out of my car. I moved into town to be close to schools and stores. My house is going to be mostly solar within six months, and the new design is as energy efficient as we can make it -CFL’s, no petroleum based paints, etc. I shoot my own elk. My wife and I decided that we’re only going to fly once a year to see family.

    I’m not suggesting everyone do this, but everyone can do something, even if it’s as simple as taking the bus or riding a bike or god forbid – walking somewhere! Don’t blame a bunch of politicians for high gas prices and the oil companies for making a profit off our dependence.

  11. I think Obama has now responded in a politically effective way to McCain on the gasoline issue — take their “windfall” profits and give it back to the majority of us.

    This may not be the best energy policy, but it is as good (or no worse than) we-will-drill-our-way-out-domestically policy.

    Except for the oil companies, both propositions are based on winning an election.

    Now, I finally see a reason to make my first monetary contribution to a presidential campaign this year.

    To those who will follow-up, note that I didn’t say either of these were good energy policies, but Obama’s redistribution could serve to pay for a second economic stimulus (this isn’t original; I just borrowed it from the Wall Street Journal).

    Of course, we all have to read more.

  12. avatar Wyo Native says:

    Ralph,

    I’m glad you can finally make a contribution to someone! I think I will end up keeping my money this year, LOL.

    Have you seen this?
    http://www.trib.com/articles/2008/07/20/news/wyoming/eebfc5f5bcb503fa8725748b00211cf3.txt

    This has alot of folks in SW Wyoming like myself completely mad. This is what you will get in the west with the Dems plan of drilling on our existing 64 million or so acres of current and planned leases.

    But I will admit the RMSO plan of the Repubs is just as bad for the west. So it looks like we are screwed either way. Bad time to be an outdoorsman in the west, IMHO.

  13. avatar Wyo Native says:

    BTW,

    Our Democratic candidate for our only house seat, Gary Trauner, has been blasting all over the radio about how if elected he will try and defeat the Wyoming Range Legacy Act if it passes the Senate and moves on to the House. He has stated in his adds that closing public land to drilling is not the right answer to our nations energy crisis.

    Thanks for this information. While I am generally a Democrat, this is one reason I don’t give money to their congressional campaign committee, but to the individual candidate. RM

  14. Wyo Native,

    I understand that a lot of conservationists in WY are supporting the Republican Mark Gordon, who was actually a member of the Sierra Club.

    There was a good article in Salon Magazine recently suggesting that if the Democrat majority is big after the election, the “Blue Dogs” should get the boot.

    Blue Dog Democrats, who were once strictly southern Democrats, have been a source of disunity and an appeal to the more regressive segments of society for 75 years now.

  15. avatar timz says:

    Oil companies are not making “windfall profits”. They making a lot of money on selling alot of gas. Using the term “windfall profit” is a nice way do demonize them. I think forcing an industry to dole out money to it’s customers because they are making to much money is about the dumbest idea I have heard from any politician. Start that and where does it end. Force Walmart to hand out money to any one that shops there. If I were in charge of an oil company and was told I had to dole out billions in rebates I’d say ok, tomorrow gas is $10 a gallon, I owe it to my stockholders. Like it or not this is a capitalist society not socialist.

  16. avatar Brian Ertz says:

    timz – then let the oil companies drill on private land.

  17. avatar timz says:

    Brian I agree and I am not for “stampedeing off” (Monty Python reference) to go drilling. I just find Obama’s idea that oil companies should pay out rebates to be very dangerous and irresponsible.

  18. avatar SmokyMtMan says:

    As usual, Brian and others make some very good points. I know that our oil use costs us in many ways more than is often acknowledged by our politicians, our current economic models, or even most fellow citizens. Some of these negative effects or costs possess frightening potential to do our society great harm in the long-run.

    Some effects have cost us great immediate harm, as well. This world must develop alternative fuels with no further hesitation, and with a full and sincere push from all levels of our society and government. Truthfully, it should be a global effort.

    I would think that most of us on this board are aware we are in the midst of a severe energy crisis. But the road to this point was paved with American greed and our insatiable demand for cheap gasoline so that we can take long vacations in our car, and long commutes to our workplaces that enable us to own larger homes in the suburbs.

    The American public put the pressure on our government and oil companies to provide us with this oil as cheaply as they could. Notice every time gas prices rise quickly, Congress calls for “investigations” and “hearings” about price gouging.

    This is merely political posturing, but it is a direct result of the pressure politicians feel whenever gasoline prices go above what the American consumer decides is a fair price. This pressure comes from the VOTER.

    The American public generally supported the first gulf war, and we on this forum know what it was about. So did the American people, and they supported war as a means to keep the supply of oil intact (and thus a low price). I guarantee you this: if Iraq had been a success, the American people would have generally supported this current war. They certainly supported it initially. Support only dropped for the Iraq War because we began to LOSE.

    If Bush had won the war in Iraq, his approval ratings would still be high, I bet. In other words, the American people have proven they support war as a means to keep oil prices low.

    But they don’t forgive politicians when they lose these wars. So, how is it possible to let the American people off the hook? How is it possible that some refuse to place the blame for our current crisis at the feet of the American consumer/voter to a large extent?

    I just believe that our current politics and energy problems reflect more of what the American people wanted than they feel comfortable admitting. But it’s high time they did, or nothing will change.

  19. avatar timz says:

    “In addition, look at the polling data. Who gets the greatest blame from the public?”

    Further proof that in general the public is, stupid.

  20. avatar SmokyMtMan says:

    TPageCO Says:

    “Smoky – we should share a beer sometime… I’m with you on this, man. If we start doing things to reduce the omnipresence of petroleum in our lives, the oil companies won’t have nearly the influence they do now, and neither will loonies like Ahmedinejad or Chavez either, for that matter. The only things I blame the politicos for are aiding the destruction of public resources in North America and discouraging alternative energy research.”

    I wish I could enjoy a beer with almost everyone on this forum. While we all don’t agree 100% on everything, the dialogue here is very positive and enlightening. There are lots of great perspectives and knowledge shared.

    I agree perfectly that it is only common sense to link a legitimate and well-funded push for alternative fuels with our nation’s self-defense. As you point out, most of the world’s oil seems to be in countries we have a lot of problems with.

    As T. Boone Pickens has stated, this energy crisis we are in should be the highest priority of our President and government right now. Not tomorrow, but today. We should be establishing goals to switch over our electrical grid to solar and wind power generation.

    The things we need to do are drastic, will require much time and money to develop, and cause short-term economic pain. Our politicians will never make these hard choices unless we voters force them to.

    This must happen soon. The question remains: will we? A democracy is run by majority rule, so that a democratically -elected government represents the general will of the voters.

    We must impart these ideals onto our political system. If we had done it sooner, the costs would have been much easier to bear. If we do it later, the costs may be above our society’s (and earth’s) ability to pay.

    I don’t want our West’s future to look anything like this:

    http://www.onearth.org/article/canadas-highway-to-hell

  21. avatar Monty says:

    Excellent discussion.
    SmokeyMtMan: Wow, after reading the “Highway To Hell” article. A comment about the Bush/Gore 2000 election results. Thomas Friedman in his book: “Longitudes & Attitudes” has the following “take” on how the election was won: “The five conservative justices essentially ruled that the sancity of dates , even meaningless ones, mattered more than than the sancity of votes, even maeningful ones”.

  22. avatar steve c says:

    You would think that it would be in the best interest of these oil companies to invest a small amount of these billions into alternate energy so at the least they would own the technology that will power the nation when the oil dries up… Doesn’t seem like a smart long term strategy for them either.

    – – –
    I have read that the oil companies are moving into alternative energy. They can see the writing on the wall, and they want to diversify. However, this as an election issue, is not about real solutions, but whose storyline will pull in the most votes. RM

  23. avatar SmokyMtMan says:

    Monty, that 2000 election is a good example that demonstrates that even in a democracy, a political leadership may not enjoy a 50 percent majority of citizen approval. We still re-elected Bush in 2004, though.

    Brian also made the point that one can not simply assume a voter approves all of a politician’s stands and issues, even if they voted for that person. This is true, to a certain extent, and I ask us to look over the historical context of our energy policies, election results, and the political dynamics.

    What I see is a clear trend of American voters using the economy as the main pressure exerted upon our elected leaders. Our primary demand has always been one of a basic and intrinsic desire; that is, to grow the economy. At all times, every day of every year, at any cost.

    If you look at the environmental destruction that has occurred in the U.S., it all has the same base cause: human economic development. We waged war on the Native Americans in the name of economic growth, and even the basic underlying causes of the Civil War were financial in nature. The voter is a slave to continuous economic growth, as our increasing standards of living depend upon it.

    And that has always been the main focus of almost every major election in our country’s history. So, why would we blame the politicians when they are only doing the voter’s bidding? The politicians have given us the society that voters have demanded. A consumerist society, a society in which wealth is constantly accumulated so that the next generation has more things and property than the previous, a society of cheap and plentiful natural resources made available to the economy, a society in which everything else is secondary to continuous economic growth.

    Please tell me when the electorate ever demanded anything but the society I just described. Looking at U.S. history, I see no evidence of that voter’s existence. My point is that to bring true change to our world, we must first alter the way our society views “progress” and “development”; we must stabilize our populations to ZPG; and we must begin electing leaders that will prepare us for the future by making the realistic and necessary sacrifices we must incur in order to reach a harmony with our planet.

    We are not ready for that. I wonder if we ever will be. We are running out of time.

    And the fault will lie primarily with the voters/consumer of the industrialized nations.

  24. avatar Virginia says:

    Even when I cast my ballot for Barack Obama in Wyoming, my three electoral college representatives will vote for John McCain. When you all talk about the voters, at least in the national election, remember the electoral college (or the supreme court) decides the election, not the “voters.”

  25. avatar Danny says:

    As I was reading on the internet I came upon this http://articles.moneycentral.msn.com/Investing/Extra/HowMuchOilIsThereReally.aspx note how much the Oil CEO’s say a barrel of oil should be…..35, 65 and 90 dollars.

    On June 23rd on Cspan I saw the following hearing, http://energycommerce.house.gov/archives/archivedWebcasts.shtml click on June 23, 2008 Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations Hearing on “Energy Speculation: Is Greater Regulation Necessary to Stop Price Manipulation? – Part II”

    In the above hearing on June 23rd you will hear the panel before the Subcommittee saying that a barrel of oil should be in the 60 dollar range. And they said that Speculation in the Stock market is the reason the price is/was $140 a barrel. A question comes to my mind and that is… why would Speculators be allowed to do this as our Country is reeling from the high prices of everything …food, gas, etc.

    Interesting isn’t it.

  26. avatar JEFF E says:

    sent to me from a family member today. The last paragraph is pretty much bush’s government in a nutshell.
    http://www.thecordovatimes.com/news/show/4347

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‎"At some point we must draw a line across the ground of our home and our being, drive a spear into the land and say to the bulldozers, earthmovers, government and corporations, “thus far and no further.” If we do not, we shall later feel, instead of pride, the regret of Thoreau, that good but overly-bookish man, who wrote, near the end of his life, “If I repent of anything it is likely to be my good behaviour."

~ Edward Abbey

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