Here is what oil companies need to explain to the public: the cost of refining and distributing a gallon of gas. That cost varies little whether oil is $10 per barrel or $60 per barrel. The cost per barrel can then be calculated into the overall cost structure. It was not long ago that gas was less than $1 per gallon. That was when oil prices were in the upper $30-per-barrel range. It seems clear that oil companies take advantage of consumers as cost per barrel goes up. In the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, weren't there reports that the oil companies had not built a new refinery in this country in many years? The preferential tax treatment of the oil companies smacks of political clout and not environmental or consumer consciences. Let's encourage our elected representatives to continue efforts to make the big oil companies better citizens. Tax excess profits if necessary, modify tax incentives to build environmentally friendly refineries, and regulate the industry if all else fails.
When members of the Senate questioned oil executives during recent hearings, the hypocrisy of many senators was evident. Congressional taxing policies like the Tax Reform Act of 1969 undermined the ability of oil companies to build an energy supply for the future. Congress still wasn't through, as it curtailed access to public land: There would be no drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge or offshore on the East and West coasts. Therefore, domestic production has declined, and imports from foreign countries have increased.
DOYLE T. GROGAN
If ever there were five smug executives lined up for a suspected financial crime against this country, these five fit the bill. If we need another refinery or two, build them. At $3 billion each, it's a drop in the bucket compared with their profits. They may have funded some congressional representatives, but wait until the next elections. They'd better get jobs in the oil industry now.
LEONARD T. HALL
Let me get this straight: oil company executives had to appear before Congress and, among other things, were lectured about increasing supply. Yet this same Congress prohibits exploration and drilling off the coastlines and in Alaska. Reminds me of the old saw: If the opposite of pro is con, what's the opposite of progress?
We are in debt to many oil-producing countries because of our insatiable appetite for the product. Shut off the spigot, and we grind to a halt. Our reserves would help for a while, but not long enough to develop alternatives. We are vulnerable and must conserve.
WILLARD S. NORTON
Kansas City, Mo.
Don't Blame Dems
"Hitting Back at War Critics" [Washington Whispers, November 21] gave a one-sided view of what you termed the Republican National Committee's outing of "the flip-floppers" in a video of Democrats who warned "of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction." Several news organizations reported this story with a Democratic response. Why didn't you?