Letter: Why subsidize big oil?

April 28, 2014 

According to my quick research on the Internet, the federal government has pumped more than $470 billion into the oil and gas industry in the form of generous, never-expiring tax breaks during the past century.

Taxpayers currently subsidize the oil industry by as much as $4.8 billion a year, with about half of that going to the big five oil companies -- ExxonMobil, Shell, Chevron, BP and ConocoPhillips -- which get an average tax break of $3.34 on every barrel of domestic crude they produce.

Once intended to jump-start struggling domestic drillers, these incentives have become a tidy bonus for some of the world's most profitable companies. However, I now note that prices in the domestic market and the pump are going up again, inflating already obscene profits that predominately are a result of the oil companies exploiting profitable markets overseas.

One has to ask Congress if it is time to rethink this subsidy. Is it really prudent to continue subsidizing this industry at the expense of cutting education and food subsidizes to those out of work? Perhaps Congress could take action on this instead of positioning themselves for midterm elections by delaying immigration reform or criticizing health care. Shame on us!

BOB LOBER, West Richland

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