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March 10, 2022

With Energy Prices Rising, King Says Companies Putting Profits Before Production

You can watch Senator King’s questioning HERE, or download broadcast quality video HERE 

WASHINGTON, D.C. – As high gas prices continue to affect consumers across America, U.S. Senator Angus King today sharply criticized oil companies – using their own words – for investing record profits into stock buybacks instead of production on thousands of underutilized leases. In a hearing of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, King directly addressed the oil industry and panned their decision to spend nearly $100 billion on buybacks and dividends as U.S. energy prices spike in response to diminished supply due to Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine. Senator King specifically highlighted a statement by an oil executive, who last month wondered if major fuel companies would prioritize patriotism or profits during this massive global shift.

“[Oil prices] went down because we had more supply than demand during the pandemic, and production went down because of the collapse in demand. The demand came back but the supply didn’t come back. Why didn’t the supply come back? Because the oil industry made a conscious decision to invest in their shareholders rather than their production capability,” said Senator King. “This past year they have announced almost $40 billion of stock buybacks – which does nothing for production or anybody else except shareholders and perhaps the executives – and about $50 billion of dividends. That’s money that could have gone into investment for production.”

“That’s what’s driving this, it isn’t lease pauses on federal land and it isn’t the Keystone pipeline,” continued Senator King. “An executive in the industry put it I think absolutely perfectly when he said just a few weeks ago: “You’ve made a promise to be more disciplined getting cashback to shareholders with these dividends. The question is, are you going to keep your promise or are you going to be patriotic?” Well we all know what they chose, to not be patriotic – and the production isn’t there.”

“What’s hampering the growth of production isn’t federal policy and it isn’t scary statements from the White House about climate change. It’s a failure to invest in the production capability – and that’s really what’s driving this,” Senator King concluded. 

As a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources, Senator King has long been a fierce advocate for American energy independence and low costs for American consumers as we transition into our clean energy future. As energy prices rise in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, King introduced a bipartisan bill to evaluate how Russian energy influence can be countered globally. He’s also called on the White House to reevaluate exports in order to reduce domestic energy and heating costs, and has stressed the importance of energy efficiency for cheaper, cleaner power.

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