Letters to the Editor

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GAS: Oil industry doesn’t need tax breaks

Letter by Mark M. Quinn, Olympia on April 4, 2012 at 1:35 pm with 60 Comments »
April 4, 2012 1:39 pm

The top six oil companies recently released their 2011 fourth-quarter results, and to no one’s surprise made a record-high $148 billion in profits in 2011.

When you are selling something that everyone is addicted to you are going to make a lot of money, and you shouldn’t need tax breaks or billions in subsidies to cut a profit. I thank Sens. Maria Cantwell and Patty Murray for voting last month to end the century-old tax breaks for the oil industry. However, the bill was defeated in the Senate.

For the first time in more than a decade, imports accounted for less than half the oil consumed in America in 2010. In 2011, import dependence fell again to its lowest level in 16 years. The problem isn’t not enough drilling, it’s too much profiteering.

As the U.S. House of Representatives holds hearing on high gas prices this week and keeps proposing to open more public lands to exploration and extraction, it is time to tell our legislators to refocus on energy conservation, efficiency and finding an alternative to oil. Damaging and destroying what remains of our public lands, offshore waters and other natural resources searching for more oil is like scraping the last drops of paint out of an empty can.

As a hunter and fisher, I don’t want my taxes used to subsidize the oil industry or help them tear up what’s left of our public lands searching for yesterday’s energy source.

(Quinn, who retired after 31 years with the state Department of Fish and Wildlife, is secretary of the Washington Wildlife Federation.)

Leave a comment Comments → 60
  1. concernedtacoma7 says:

    Come back down from lala land Matt.

    Develop alternatives to oil, sure. Until then we need to make it as cheap as possible (the help the middle class and poor).

    Those ‘special tax breaks’ are accounting deductions available and used by all industries. Apple, Microsoft, and thousand of companies in many industries have much higher profit margins.

    You want to hunt in ANWR? I want to be able to drive to work at an affordable cost.

    Even Dem controlled senate knows that most leftist energy policy is rhetoric. The know we have hundreds of years of oil.

  2. Those ‘special tax breaks’ are accounting deductions available and used by all industries.

    Then how is it that the bill specified “clos[ing] tax breaks for big oil companies—ExxonMobil, Shell, ConocoPhillips, Chevron Texaco, and BP—and direct[ing] the estimated $21 billion windfall to deficit reduction”?

  3. Citing “profits” is meaningless unless one also cites expenses. Right, the oil industry makes lots of money. It also has huges expenses to find, extract, transport, refine, and market petroleum products. Look up the profit margins on some other industries, e.g., software, then complain about the oil countr–if you have the gall.

  4. concernedtacoma7 says:

    Bb- was that a real question? The ‘how’ is political rhetoric.

  5. aislander says:

    I say close ALL tax “loopholes” for business and individuals and reduce rates for all–especially since we now have the highest nominal corporate tax rate in the world.

    Doing this would eliminate the ability of Congress to socially engineer and to pick winners and losers.

    Seems like the only right thing for a “free” country to do…

  6. “Those ‘special tax breaks’ are accounting deductions available and used by all industries.”

    You don’t honestly believe that do you?
    If so I’ve got some bridges i need to sell and i will make you one heck of a deal.

  7. “the oil industry makes lots of money. It also has huges expenses to find, extract, transport, refine, and market petroleum products.”

    Why should the tax payer pay for it?
    We allow them to drill on our land for nearly nothing, we build the roads for them to get there, why should we give them any more?
    Isn’t their huge profits enough?

  8. sumyungboi says:

    Yes, we should instead raise taxes on evil “Big Oil” (whom most of us have a stake in with our IRA’s and 401k’s) because as we all know, they’ll just eat it rather than pass it on. We should instead be dumping tons of taxpayer money into into “Green Energy”, where most of the largest recipients of taxpayer funded mega-subsidies just happen to be friends of Obama and are big democrat doners, and oh, did I mention that they’re falling like flies into bankruptcy? Taxpayer money well spent, friends. I just have to laugh at these whiny little people who just seethe with anger over success, while celebrating the fact that a very few of the well connected are getting mega rich with taxpayer money thrown at them by the Obama administration, while their actual companies are folding. I was wondering how it must feel to be such an ideologue that you simply don’t care whether or not America fails and falls into third world serfdom, but only that you win some little political war against your “enemy”. But then, I couldn’t, because I’m not an anti-American leftist. Have fun riding your bikes to work, you may as well put on your nice little green Chairman Mao suit while you’re at it.

  9. sumyungboi says:

    aislander, amen, brother. I just don’t get it. Lower taxes and dump tax breaks. If someone has a legal business, it’s not up to any layer of government to prop them up or run them out of business, and it’s completely immoral to do so. This is why we’ve sunk into crony socialism over the last several decades. John Gault, man.

  10. GHTaxPayer says:

    Let’s end “tax breaks” on all companies including GE (which pays zero taxes and donates heavily to Obama)and taxpayer subsidized solar power, wind power and Planned Murderhood (all of whom donate to Obama).

    And let’s end tax breaks for the 47% of Americans that use our freeways, enjoy freedom and protection but pay ZERO federal taxes.

    Yes, let’s stop the freeloading by EVERYONE and institute a flat personal tax of 15% and a flat corporate tax of 20%. Why should one person pay a higher rate than another? We’re all created equal, remember.

    And what Mr. Queer of Olympia forgot to mention was that the U.S Oil industry pays more taxes than ANY OTHER INDUSTRY – Approx. $330 Billion per year. And gas taxes on top of that generate another $210 Billion per year for state and fed. But it’s still not enough to cover the $5 Trillion that Obama and Dems have added to the deficit since 2008.

    Folks, we have a SPENDING and FREELOADING PROBLEM, not a “taxes are too low on big oil” problem.

  11. GHTaxPayer says:

    Can we get back the $1.8 Billion that Obama stole from taxpayers and flushed down the drain on bankrupt solar companies that donated over $100,000 to his campaign?? You Dems are against theft and corruption, right ??

  12. geeterpontiac says:

    Something else worth mentioning, a portion of the profit that companies make is given to someone in form of dividends and those dividends are taxed, or will be in the future at the time of withdraweal if they are presently invested in an traditional IRA.

    Many elderly people who are on fixed income and collect SS and receive a small retirement, have money invested in stock and the 2.5 to 4.5% dividend they collect quarterly is a big help in keeping their heads above water.

  13. aislander says:

    I think the lefties want the government in control of ALL money. The private sector and those who depend on its profits are the enemy.

    But, even if that isn’t their actual point of view, I’d like to know what the left would do differently if it were…

  14. BlaineCGarver says:

    I would like to see US money stay and be taxed here, and not sent overseas. Perhaps we could reap a windfall by being competitive with cheap, overseas countries? BTW, don’t hold your breath waiting for a ‘Crat to lower gas prices…they want it sky high to help their social engineering plans (dust off that scooter and bicycle, folks)

  15. aislander says:

    BCG: Did you hear that the UN says we have the MOST progressive tax system in the world, and that our rich pay a higher percentage of taxes than do the rich of any other nation?

    Seems as though it’s the 99% that isn’t paying its “fair share…”

  16. aislander says:
  17. aislander says:


  18. aislander says:


  19. Frankenchrist says:

    $148 billion in profits in 2011, 4,400 dead in Chimpy McBush’s War for Oil in Iraq, and the greedy oil companies still want their tax breaks?

    I say tax them even higher, impose price controls, and force them to fund environmental programs.

  20. concernedtacoma7 says:

    Good job TNT…

  21. You have to laugh at the right wing talking points.
    I wonder if they hunger for substance the way everyone else does that reads their empty, false, child like, worn out propaganda.

  22. rooster_02 says:

    Why don’t you call it what it is ………corporate welfare.

  23. “Mr. Queer of Olympia”

    Another fine example of “mature” rhetoric coming from the Right…..

  24. sumyungboi says:

    frankchrist, profits and margins are two completely different things. Learn it.

  25. sumyungboi says:

    beerboy, please.. I really don’t think I’ve ever commented on this paper’s site without being insulted by someone on the left, so until you’re ready to pipe up every time that stuff happens, you’re just another meaningless hypocrite.

  26. sum, you’ve never as far as I can tell, commented without insulting as many posters as you can……period.
    It seems the rights only reason for posting here is to insult, and for some reason the TNT lets you all get away with it.

  27. sumyungboi says:

    klu, go look for my comments where, unprovoked, I personally insulted any other commentators here. In this thread, as an example, I have posted four comments. In only one did I even tread close, where I called beerboy a “meaningless hypocrite”. This in response to his hypocritical comment excoriating “the right” with a broad brush because of one persons comment, and I was correct in my analysis of beerboy, this can’t be disputed. For that, I was told the TNT should ban me. Nice.

    Klu, the left depends on insult as a tool, (Alinsky #5, “Ricicule is a mans most potent weapon”) and have depended on the average person’s good nature to keep an advantage by putting their “enemies” on the defensive. Those days are gone. Ma and Pa out in flyover country don’t depend on Dan Rather anymore, nor do most of them trust the MSM, and… (and this is important) they see the left for what it is. The radical, anti-American progressives / liberals can no longer hide who they are, which is why all of this is out in the open now. The left thinks that they’ll have their big protests and anarchy and states of emergency and so on this fall, but they’re in for a big surprise, aren’t they? :)

  28. Great letter! To subsidize with our tax dollars, an industry that openly rakes in record profits quarter after quarter and can clearly stand on its own two feet without subsidies, is absurd and obscene and everyone knows it. Here’s an issue that would go down in flames if it were put to a vote of the people.

  29. CT7 – take your own advice, leave LaLa land and return to reality.

    Velmak – more meaningless is citing ‘profit margins’ I’ll take a 1% return that gives billions in profits over a 10% return that gives a few hundred thousand in return any day of the week

    Islander – highest rates and some of the lowest returns due to the one-sided swiss cheese tax code.

    If you want a country that is free in the sense on no taxes move to Somalia are any other failed third world country.

    ‘Most progressive tax system’ please cite source. And why was the Nation so much better off when the top rate was between 70 and 90%?

    B-G-C – tax US money here and not sent overseas. Other than I would have said ‘hidden overseas, I agree with you statement.

  30. commoncents says:

    Wait…I’m a Democrat and I drive a large SUV and want low gas prices. Guess beerboy isn’t the only one who supposedly paints with a broad brush. Only difference is that, sumyungboi, you find it offensive when he does it but you find it humorous when Blaine or anyone else does it.

    And just because you don’t call someone out by name doesn’t mean that you aren’t insulting people. Make your points without commenting on either side and you may find some common ground. See aislanders post at 4:18 for an example of that. I think most people – left and right – would like to see some version of this. Only difference between the two would be how low do you go with the rate and what social programs stay and go. Deductions and Loopholes are just tools to be manipulated and need to be removed; but only with a corresponding reduction in the tax rate. See…left and right can agree.

  31. aislander says:

    The oil industry has done more for me personally than almost the entire Federal government. I appreciate the military, the interstate highway system and not much else. As a matter of fact, I’d like back the freedom it has taken from me.

    I understand that one could buy a gallon of gas in the ’40s for $0.20 (two silver dimes) per gallon. It STILL costs about two silver dimes per gallon.

    Gasoline isn’t more expensive, but our esteemed (not!) Federal government has bastardized our money to the point that it doesn’t buy as much as it did only–say–three and a half years ago. The only times the oil companies don’t deliver at a reasonable price is when governmental policies get in the way.

    You know what’s overpriced and poorly run? The Federal government.

  32. aislander says:

    xring writes: “Islander – highest rates and some of the lowest returns due to the one-sided swiss cheese tax code.”

    exring: You keep missing my posts in which I advocate doing away with the holes and improving the quality of the cheese…

  33. averageJoseph says:

    Mark, what was their percent of profit?

  34. aislander says:

    xring: There are three lists of the relative freedom of the world’s economies, and I have posted those before. Somalia is near the top of the LEAST-free countries in every case. Whether the economy is being strangled by an over-reaching central government or a bunch of freelance war lords doesn’t really matter with respect to outcomes.

    I thought I did cite my source for “most progressive tax system.” That would be the United Nations…

  35. sumyungboi says:

    Sorry commoncents, you’re assuming that I find insults from the left offensive, when in fact, I don’t care. That’s what they do, and more and more people are realizing that that’s all they have. When you read insults and mockery coming from the left, it almost always includes no substance. I was merely pointing out the hypocrisy.

  36. scooter6139 says:

    This one is easy (in my mind at least). WHY do the Oil companies need the subsidies/tax breaks? Is the price of a barrel of oil below the threshold originally set to “help” the oil companies? Are their profits so low that they can not afford the cost of doing business?

    For all those complaining about the federal government investing in green energy like wind and solar, how much is China investing in it’s own green energy? If you choke and splutter at $1.8 billion, the Chinese government countered at $30 billion. Guess who’s winning the future energy wars now? (Hint: it’s not the USA)

  37. averageJoseph says:

    Well scooter, would YOU be happy living the life style of the average Chinese person???
    It’s no wonder some Americans don’t seem to mind losing more freedom under this administration.

  38. aislander says:

    scooter6139: China is faced with a problem that we once had but no longer do: what to do with the excess money produced by a vibrant, growing economy.

    We just don’t have the money to pour down a rat hole.

    We need to get back to basics and fix OUR economy. One VERY good way to do that is by producing cheap energy–NOW!

  39. aislander says:

    And scooter: for whom do you think the Chinese are making those items? For the natural demand of a free market or the coerced demand of people FORCED by regulation to buy the crap?

  40. LornaDoone says:

    Citing “profits” is meaningless unless one also cites expenses.

    NO. Profits are AFTER expenses. All companies have expenses. There is no need for special mention of “expenses” unless you want to be redundantly redundant.

  41. LornaDoone says:

    What does the Chinese lifestyle have to do with their government’s investment in green energy? NOTHING

  42. LornaDoone says:

    “One VERY good way to do that is by producing cheap energy–NOW!”

    False premise. Producing ANYTHING domestically would improve our economy. If people are working, they have money to buy things.

  43. “Somalia is near the top of the LEAST-free countries in every case.”

    Do you need help packing?

  44. aislander says:

    Way to miss the point, LD. I doubt very much the Chinese will be using the green-energy crap in their OWN market, given their huge investments in coal-fired power plants, but they are building it to sell to us.

    My question was about OUR government’s forcing US to buy the junk…

    By the way: have you noticed all the coal trains headed for the ports lately. I have. Guess where that coal is headed…

  45. Let’s see…I respond to GHTaxpayer’s gratuitous homophobic remark and sumyung responds by calling me a hypocrite – more maturity from the Right.

  46. aislander says:

    LD writes: “Producing ANYTHING domestically would improve our economy…”

    Producing ANYTHING requires energy. That’s why cheap energy is basic to economic growth–more so than any other type of production.

    You guys on the left don’t want us to be able to compete on a cost basis with respect to labor (although I believe if we unleash American innovation and productivity, we can compete with anyone while retaining our standard of living. But we are stifling those things) energy is the one area where we CAN lower costs.

    You won’t let us do that, so I can conclude only that the left is opposed to ALL economic activity. At least to OUR economic activity…

  47. aislander says:

    NOW you’re acting like a victim, beerBoy…

  48. averageJoseph says:

    hypocrite victim

  49. “Americans don’t seem to mind losing more freedom under this administration.”

    And what would those freedoms be?
    Can you list them for us?

  50. I think those on the left are interested in economic progress,as opposed to economic growth. “Growth for growth’s sake is the ideology of the cancer cell” E Abbey

    Way past time for a new paradigm….

  51. “more maturity from the Right.”

    It’s what hey do when they lose an argument, which is always.
    Some of the rightist don’t wait to lose, they just insult, call names and run away.

  52. You guys make me laugh…..

  53. concernedtacoma7 says:

    Kluw- what do you feel you contribute here?

    Back on subject, can one of you lefties list out the ‘special tax breaks and subsidies’ oil companies get that any other companies do not?

    As an industry they pay the second highest average tax rate. They provide an essential service at a cost way lower then the truly subsidies green industry. We subsidize Japanese car companies with the tax breaks on a Prius. Talk about an outrage.

  54. LornaDoone says:

    “As an industry they pay the second highest average tax rate.”

    If zero is the second highest, what is the highest?


    Kluw contributes something other than Republican talking points.

  55. aislander says:

    Rat writes: “I think those on the left are interested in economic progress,as opposed to economic growth. ‘Growth for growth’s sake is the ideology of the cancer cell’ E Abbey”

    What a meaningless piece of “wisdom” to go to the trouble of enclosing within quotation marks. But never mind that. I recall asserting that a significant cohort of lefties oppose economic growth and was roundly jeered for my trouble.

    Reread the above, and: QED…

  56. concernedtacoma7 says:

    GE- BHO’s crew, zero taxes. Nice…

    Glad we subsidize foreign companies with failed green policies

  57. “I recall asserting that a significant cohort of lefties oppose economic growth and was roundly jeered for my trouble.”

    Thats because it’s not true and everyone knows it.
    If anyone should ‘reread’ it should be YOU.

  58. Vox_clamantis_in_deserto says:

    Way past time for a new paradigm….

    Judging by the author of the quote you provided, I’m guessing your “new” paradigm is “old” anarchism.

    No doubt about where the sentiments of a radical environmentalist and self-proclaimed anarchist like Abbey would lie with respect to the topic at hand. He and the supporters of this LTE would be perfectly happy with ever higher gas prices. But in the case of Abbey, throwing a “monkeywrench” into the economy and resultant collapse of the government at all levels, would have been just dandy too. Probably would have made for another novel… oh wait…

    But when you think about it… when it finally becomes evident to the far left, that government simply cannot provide the means for a utopian lifestyle, where will they turn in their disillusionment? Anarchism provides an attractive alternative to the most cynical among them right now. And their numbers are growing.

  59. Aislander – not missing, just reminding you.

  60. tappsman64 says:

    I would like Mr. Quinn, or anyone else to inform me about the subsidies that the oil companies receive. I have heard our president tell us many times that these subsidies must be discontinued but he also has not told us what the subsidies are.

    Is is possible that Mr. Quinn is unaware of any subsidies,that he is just parrotting what the president says, and that the oil companies do not receive any subsidies from the federal government.

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