12/01/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Three Strikes Against John McCain

Just issued today, by the Congressional Select Committee for Energy Independence and Global Warming:

With a new record quarterly profit of $14.83 billion, Exxon Mobil and the other top four oil companies are now on track to reap more than $150 billion in profits in 2008, shattering last year's record haul. Meanwhile, investments in renewable energy continue to lag with the world's most profitable company, and as an industry as a whole.

The up-tick in profits for these companies has not been reflected in the health of America's economy, with figures released today showing a slide in U.S. GDP for the third quarter of 2008, indicating a recession. Profits have increased for the companies, even as prices have slipped.

"Our economy is suffering from many factors, but one of them is the price of oil and our nation's dependence on it," said Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. "Instead of just accepting the $150 billion in oil profits as status quo, our country needs a plan like Senator Obama's to invest $150 billion in renewable energy alternatives. Because for these oil companies, there are hundreds of billions of reasons why they want to keep the status quo intact."

Exxon's prior profit record was $11.68 billion in the second quarter of 2008. Shell Oil announced profits of $8.45 billion in the third quarter, and BP announced $10 billion over the same period, an increase of almost 150 percent compared to the same period in 2007. All told, the five top oil companies in the world--Exxon, BP, Shell, Chevron and Conoco--made $123 billion in 2007. Current profits now put these companies on track to make more than $150 billion in 2008.

The main thrust of Senator Barack Obama's (D-Ill.) plan to achieve American energy independence and create 5 million new jobs is to invest $150 billion over 10 years in clean energy development. Exxon, by contrast, is spending just $10 million a year, a figure they admitted to Chairman Markey at a hearing on April 1 of this year, and in documents released to the Select Committee after the hearing. Chairman Markey also challenged the head of the top five oil companies at the April hearing to invest 10 percent of their profits in renewable energy development, which would roughly equal the yearly commitment Sen. Obama is making, according to current profit projections. All five companies refused.

What does Exxon do with all that money, you may wonder? They give it back to their shareholders, and re-invest the rest, into more oil exploration, meanwhile pouring millions of dollars in advertising to falsely position themselves as pioneers in renewable energy development. Exxon, and the other oil companies have no incentives to change. In 2007 alone the Bush administration thanked its friends in the oil industry with $17 billions in subsidies. And made it hard for alternative energies to get a few crumbs.

Of great concern to me, has been John McCain's enthusiastic support for "Drill, Baby, Drill". The fact that we hold only 3% of the world's oil reserves, and yet consume 25% of it, makes it clear that we cannot drill our way out of our current energy dependence. Other than satisfying the greed from a few oil barons, this position does not make sense. It certainly goes contrary to the interest of the majority of the American people, on at least three fronts: the economy, national security, and global warming.