Four Halloween scares from ExxonMobil and Chevron
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This morning, ExxonMobil and Chevron—the largest and the second-largest oil companies in the US—announced their third quarter profits for 2014.
In spite of gloomy expectations that the recent drop in crude oil prices would eat into their profits, both of these giants are still making a killing causing the climate crisis, with ExxonMobil reporting $8.07 billion in net income and Chevron $5.59 billion.
Just in time for Halloween, here are four terrifying facts left out of this morning’s coverage.
Corporate welfare. The oil and gas industry gets billions in tax breaks and other subsidies every year—and ExxonMobil and Chevron are no exception. Even though the top corporate tax rate is supposed to be 35 percent, Big Oil uses a variety of accounting gimmicks to lower the bill. In fact, Chevron only paid an effective tax rate of 24.5 percent in 2013. ExxonMobil was even lower at 10.2 percent. These are some of the wealthiest corporations in human history, and yet they still benefit from drilling and refining subsidies—some of them nearly a century old—that shrink their taxes and shift the social burden onto everyone else.
Dark money. Both ExxonMobil and Chevron have spilled a lot of oil money into next week’s election. The main beneficiaries are candidates on both sides of the aisle who have defended the right of Big Oil to stay under-taxed and under-regulated. According to Open Secrets, Chevron has spent $2,036,813 so far during this cycle on candidates, parties, PACs, and outside spending groups. Almost on par, ExxonMobil has thrown $1,970,991 into the ring.
Offshore drilling. Almost five years after Deepwater Horizon, offshore drilling is still not safe—for people or the environment. No one should know that better than these two. Between 2007 and 2012, ExxonMobil was cited for 70 major safety and environment violations for its offshore drilling activities. Not to be outdone, Chevron was cited for no fewer than 178 major violations, including two separate spills that sent a total of 354 barrels of crude into the Gulf of Mexico.
Legal woes. Companies the size of ExxonMobil and Chevron keep their legal departments very busy. After an August 2012 refinery fire in Richmond, California that led to 15,000 emergency room visits, Chevron is understandably on the receiving end of a class action lawsuit that could total millions in damages. Meanwhile, ExxonMobil is still reeling from its role in one of the biggest tar sands oil accidents in US history, when 210,000 gallons of diluted bitumen spilled from its ruptured Pegasus pipeline into an Arkansas neighborhood. The result is a pair of lawsuits, one from local residents and one jointly from the EPA and the Arkansas Attorney General. Although victims of these disasters may eventually see compensation, Big Oil has a long history of denying legitimate legal claims and dragging out court battles for as long as possible.