Cantwell Calls for Oil Executives to “Raise Their Right Hand” and Testify Before the Senate to Justify Skyrocketing Profits as Pump Prices Surge

“These record profits are something to discuss with them as we all try to tighten our belts and try to have an impact on a big sector of the Russian economy,” said Cantwell

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources committee hearing, Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA) called for the nation’s top oil executives to testify under oath in order to get answers about the recent run up in gasoline and diesel prices, particularly along the West Coast.  The expert witnesses at today’s hearing largely debunked claims by some Senators that Biden Administration policies were responsible for today’s elevated petroleum costs.

“At $4.63 a gallon, my constituents are already seeing the impacts…The top six oil companies made $90 billion in profits last year so Mr. Chairman, I believe in getting them in here and getting them to raise their right hand and asking them questions about this issue -- which the Energy and Commerce Committee have done before, maybe we should do a joint hearing and do that because I think that we’d find out a lot of answers about what’s going on,” said Cantwell. 

“I’ll never forget the Exxon Chairman being in front of one of our committees and he basically said, ‘Yeah, there’s no reason that oil shouldn’t be at $60 because that’s exactly what it costs to produce it plus some’…I think that these record profits are something to discuss with them as well as we all try to tighten our belts and try to have an impact on a big sector of the Russian economy.”

In 2005, Cantwell grilled top oil executives on then exorbitant oil prices and secured commitments from ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, BP, and Shell to open their books and help shed light on possible price gouging. Cantwell has repeatedly called for an end to giveaways for profit-rich oil companies. “America’s taxpayers should not suffer at the hands of oil companies,” she said in 2006. The Senator has sought to get to the bottom of oil market discrepancies that hurt consumers. After years of efforts, in 2007 Cantwell successfully got enacted two milestone new laws to better police energy markets, including making it a federal crime to manipulate wholesale oil markets.

At today’s hearing, Senator Cantwell also called for protecting American consumers and national security by diversifying away from oil, saying, “This is about America's long term national security. President Bush was brave enough to say this in his State of the Union address 15 years ago. But we're still here in this vulnerable position... as long as OPEC and the cartel can manipulate the world supply, we will definitely have challenges here at home. So to me, that is why I believe that we need to do everything we can to diversify off of this source, and move forward.”

As an example, Cantwell called for faster adoption of electric vehicles, noting that Washington state has one of the highest EV adoption rates per capita in the country because fueling a car with electricity is so much less expensive than using gasoline. “I believe in the directional change of getting my constituents to $1 per gallon instead of the $4 per gallon,” she said. Cantwell was the author of the legislation that today provides a $7,500 federal tax credit for electric vehicle buyers and is currently leading an effort to create a new 30% tax incentive for all types of electrified transportation modes beyond passenger vehicles including buses, trucks, boats, planes, as well as industrial equipment such as forklifts, tractors, excavators, and port equipment.

VIDEO of Senator Cantwell’s remarks is available HERE, audio is available HERE, and a full transcript is available HERE.