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How about a holiday from bad ideas

"Shock. Shock. Shock." A look at who benefits from higher prices at the pump.


With oil prices skyrocketing, Big Oil is swimming in profits. At their recent earnings calls, the CEOs of Exxon, Chevron, Shell, and BP crowed about record “cash returns to shareholders,” “strong cash flows and earnings,” “significantly increased earnings and cash flow,” and “strong cash flow generation.”

And Wall Street commodity speculators are reaping the rewards as well. Algorithmic trading dominates the oil market, sending prices ever higher. The combination of high prices and low gas taxes mean that customers pay and executives and investors profit. It's a very effective way to transfer wealth from the working class to billionaires.

This is a replay of what happened with the global oil market in 2007-2008 and again in 2011. Republicans, of course, recommended policies that would give oil companies even greater returnsNewt Gingrich’s Drill Here Drill Now campaign, John McCain’s gas-tax holiday proposal, Sarah Palin’s Drill Baby Drill chants. Even Hillary Clinton jumped on the gas-tax holiday bandwagon before Barack Obama effectively demolished the proposal.

It was “stupid,” “pandering,” and “destructive nuttiness” when McCain and Clinton proposed a gas-tax holiday in 2008, and it’s stupid now. Unfortunately, several Senate Democrats—Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.), Maggie Hasan (D-N.H.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Ralph Warnock (D-Ga.), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.), and Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.)—cannot remember the past and are co-sponsoring the so-called Gas Prices Relief Act (S. 3609) to suspend the federal gas tax for the rest of the year.

As the federal gas tax has remained at 18.4 cents a gallon for nearly 30 years, with gas prices now at about $3.50 a gallon, that’s around a five percent tax. Removing the gas tax would cost the federal highway fund about $20 billion. And any saving for consumers could be eaten up by suppliers raising their prices, sending that money directly to oil companies and their investors—i.e., the hyperwealthy.

On the other hand, commodity trading fees and higher taxes on gasoline and investment income would work in the opposite direction, cutting into windfall profits and increasing investment in the working class.

After the 2008 crash, the Dodd-Frank Act strengthened the ability of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission to limit speculators, though the CFTC largely chose not to do so.

Of course, the most effective policy to manage gas-price shocks would be to nationalize the fossil fuel industry in order to begin a managed decline and just transition away from fossil fuels. 


The Department of Interior Inspector General has found that the cartoonishly corrupt Ryan Zinke, Trump’s Interior Secretary who is now running for Congress in Montana, “did not comply with ethical obligations and duty of candor.” And for a brewery, no less.

Joe Biden will request a military budget in 2023 of more than $700 billion, which is $150 billion more than the ten-year expense of the climate provisions in Build Back Better that haven’t passed.

Climate scientist Andrew Dessler braved the Joe Rogan gauntlet. British Columbians are petitioning the Canadian government to end all fossil fuel subsidies. The richest one percent of the world population are responsible for 15 percent of all global warming pollution. “Corn ethanol is not a climate-friendly fuel.” Students have filed suit against Yale, Stanford and MIT for violating their charters with fossil-fuel investments. Big Chocolate promised to stop deforestation for cacao plantations in Africa, but they have utterly failed.

MIGRATING CLIMATE HAWKS: Steph Larsen is moving on from Solar United Neighbors to a senior position with the The Partnership Project, joining Andrew Linhardt and Lauren Lantry on the Powering Past Combustion Campaign to end internal combustion engines. Heather Taylor-Miesle has stepped down from running the Ohio Environmental Council to join American Rivers as their new Senior Vice President of Advocacy and Regional Conservation. Climate hawk Maria Langholz is now the communications director at Demand Progress.

WHAT TO WATCH: Today, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is tackling the social-cost-of-carbon question in its February meeting, with the agenda item “Consideration of Greenhouse Gas Emissions in Natural Gas Infrastructure Project Reviews.”

Hearings on the Hill:

Climate Action Today:

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