WASHINGTON - November 9 - Mr. Hamilton gave this statement today at a press conference following the Senate Committee Hearings interviewing oil company
"Today's hearing brought oil executives before the Senate Energy and Commerce Committees to explain their exorbitant profits. The exchange of views provided a snapshot of both CEO attitudes on their windfall and the motivations of some of the members of Congress that called the meetings. That picture is:
"No responsibility. No accountability. No remorse.
"If you listen to the heads of our largest corporations, they take no responsibility for the fact that refining profits - not costs
- doubled this year before Hurricane Katrina and then tripled during the crisis, far outstripping increases in crude oil prices and resulting in huge gasoline price increases. They take no responsibility for the Americans who will have to choose between basic needs - food, clothing, warmth - this winter because natural gas and heating oil prices have increased by 35-50 percent or more. They won't consider taking responsibility for fully funding the Low Income Heating Assistance Program or helping weatherize the homes of low income Americans that will pay more than $300 extra on average to stay warm, because they believe private companies aren't responsible for helping government programs.
"For all the bluster of House Speaker Hastert and other members of the Congressional leadership, this is not an attempt hold oil ExxonMobil and other companies accountable for jacking up prices that savage drivers and homeowners, or creating an artificial crisis that they are using to try to drill the Arctic Wildife Refuge, lift the moratorium on oil and gas drilling off our beaches, and disable Clean Air Act protections to build refineries not up to modern environmental standards. This was a kabuki play by the Leadership to save itself from plummeting poll numbers at least partially created by their unwillingness to address high energy prices in the energy bill that was passed last summer, the blind eye turned to mergers and the increased market power of fewer and fewer oil companies, and their insistence on larding on subsidies for the world's largest energy concerns.
"If there was any remorse in the testimony of Lee Raymond of ExxonMobil and the other witnesses, it was difficult to detect. They stand by the unspoken idea that this is a world where they are entitled to charge whatever price the market will bear, no matter if families and communities are hurt in the process. ExxonMobil believes it deserves what it can get away with - even if that is skimming the cream off the U.S. economy for its own gain or putting low income Americans closer to the survival line by striving for every penny of profit they can suck out of heating fuels.
"The Sierra Club believes that - while we cannot expect remorse from ExxonMobil - we can expect our leaders to hold them accountable and responsible for abusive pricing and environmental practices. When those real results appear, rather than pro forma hearings created to give the appearance of action, our leaders will be starting to do their job."