Florida Today: Talk about obscene: “Who could possibly love hurricanes? Try the oil and energy companies. They must adore them.”: “…it's clear oil companies made exorbitant profit from the misery suffered by thousands of Gulf Coast residents.”: "Consumers are fed up with being gouged at the gas pump.": Monday 31 October 2005
Oil companies reaping huge profits from hurricanes should share rebuilding costs
Who could possibly love hurricanes?
Try the oil and energy companies. They must adore them.
They're reporting record profits for the third quarter of 2005, which just happened to coincide with devastation caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
It's also the period Americans paid record prices to fill gas tanks.
Meanwhile, Exxon Mobil profits jumped 75 percent to $9.92 billion -- up from $5.68 billion last year. Conoco Phillips was up 89 percent. Shell and Hess were up 68 and 53 percent, respectively.
The hurricanes brought those gains, industry analysts say, because higher prices at the pump more than offset losses caused by temporary closing of damaged refineries.
Gas prices have eased a bit in recent weeks, but it's clear oil companies made exorbitant profit from the misery suffered by thousands of Gulf Coast residents.
Americans in many regions -- as they scrimp to pay higher heating oil prices this winter -- will continue to bear the economic brunt of the storms that so richly rewarded energy firms.
That's why it's worth looking at a proposal by the Washington, D.C.-based Center for Economic and Policy Research to let big oil companies share the pain.
The center has proposed taxing some profits oil companies derived from the storm-related run-up in gas prices, to help pay for hurricane relief and reconstruction.
That's a fair tax in our view, and one Congress should have the courage to take up.
And it's much preferable to House Republicans' heartless plan to help pay for Katrina by cutting services to the poor such as food stamps, Medicaid and child support enforcement, along with programs like student loan subsidies.
Combined with legislation to require higher fuel efficiency standards and funding development of alternative energy sources, a tax on outrageous profits would send this strong message to oil companies:
Consumers are fed up with being gouged at the gas pump.
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