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Press Room:  For Immediate Release 
Explore, Enjoy and Protect the Planet

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: July 10, 2008
CONTACT: Josh Dorner, 202.675.2384
                David Willett, 202.675.6698

Big Oil Rakes In $610 in Profits For Each American Driver
Obama Offers Plan for Real Relief from Pain at the Pump, Energy Independence;
McCain, ‘Grand Oil Party’ Receive Over $5 Million from Oil Industry, Propose More of the Same

Washington, D.C.—Newly released campaign finance records coupled with John McCain’s misguided and dangerous energy proposals demonstrate that McCain and his allies in Congress are only interested in more of the same: more drilling; more expensive, dirty, and dangerous nuclear power; and more schemes designed to pad Big Oil’s bottom line while denying consumers real relief at the pump.  Meanwhile, American families are suffering as gas prices—and oil company profits—surge to new records.    

“Having Big Oil’s best friends in the White House has crippled our economy and hardworking Americans are suffering,” said Cathy Duvall, Sierra Club National Political Director.  “Barack Obama went to Detroit and told the automakers what they needed to hear—that they must make cars that get better gas mileage; John McCain went straight to Houston and told the oil industry what it wanted to hear—that he strongly supported their desire to begin the wholesale, unfettered ‘exploitation’ of our coasts. It’s clear that America simply cannot afford another president from the ‘Grand Oil Party.’”

Big Oil Raking in Record Profits at the Expense of American Drivers

An analysis of the record-breaking 2007 profits of just the five biggest oil companies—ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, Shell, and ConocoPhillips—shows that they made an astonishing $123,300,000,000 last year alone.  With approximately 202 million American drivers on the road, that means Big Oil is raking in about $610 in profits for each and every driver.  As oil and gas prices continue to surge, the amount every driver is paying to pad Big Oil's bottom line will only keep increasing. 

“Big Oil has American consumers over a barrel,” said Duvall.  “We literally cannot afford to continue the failed policies of the Bush administration, but it seems unlikely that a campaign full of oil industry lobbyists and awash in millions made at the expense of American consumers is going to stand up to Big Oil and deliver the kind of change we need.  By contrast, Barack Obama has stood up to special interests and has a plan to help Americans get through today’s crisis, while putting us on the path to energy independence in order to rid us of Big Oil’s chokehold once and for all.”

New Campaign Finance Reports Show Big Oil Has Funneled over $5 million to McCain and the Republican Party

Campaign finance reports filed June 30, 2008 and analyzed by the non-partisan Center for Responsive Politics show that John McCain has received $1,001,668 from the oil and gas industry, while the Republican Party has separately raked in an astonishing $4,002,662.  These new reports show that McCain hauled in nearly $210,000 from the industry in the month of June alone—a month in which he flip-flopped on offshore drilling and held numerous fundraisers in Big Oil’s backyard.

“It looks like the Big Oil fat cats in Texas gave John McCain more than just a couple standing ovations after he flip-flopped on offshore drilling and gave them exactly what they wanted,” noted Duvall.  “And is it just a coincidence that the Republican Party hauled in over $4 million from Big Oil and then turned around and bought $3.4 million worth of false and misleading attack ads riddled with blatant lies about Barack Obama’s energy plan?”

Lobbying disclosure forms also indicate that at least 23 lobbyists who lobby on behalf of some of the biggest oil companies in the world are involved in John McCain’s campaign.  

John McCain v. Barack Obama on Gas Prices and Breaking Big Oil’s Chokehold on America

Obama’s Plan for Real Short-Term Relief v. John McCain’s Gas Tax Gimmick

  • Obama wants a second round of stimulus checks for consumers and an additional $1000 tax cut for working and middle-class families to offer Americans short-term relief from crippling energy prices and the skyrocketing cost of food and other goods.  Obama would pay for this tax credit by repealing billions in taxpayer-funded giveaways to Big Oil and by imposing a windfall profits tax on oil companies that fail to invest their excess profits in clean energy. (Source: Bloomberg, 05/01/2008) 
  • John McCain has proposed a gimmick: a so-called gas tax holiday that would do absolutely nothing to lower prices at the pump, but would pad Big Oil’s bottom line with an extra 18 cents a gallon and potentially bankrupt the highway trust fund at a time when our infrastructure is already crumbling.  His misguided plan has been denounced by over 200 leading economists—including 4 Nobel Prize winners. (Source: Bloomberg News, 05/05/2008)

Obama’s Plan for 50 MPG Cars v. John McCain’s $300 Million Giveaway Gimmick

  • Obama knows that the long-term solution to high gas prices is making sure we have cars that get better gas mileage.  He fought hard to pass the first increase in fuel economy in more than 30 years.  Now he wants to go further and give American automakers the tools they need to double fuel economy to 50 miles per gallon. (Source: www.barackobama.com/issues/energy
  • John McCain didn’t even bother to show up for any votes on last year’s landmark fuel economy/energy bill.  And he has had a spotty record on the issue in the past.  Instead of providing the real leadership we need right now and putting forth a real plan, McCain proposed a $300 million gimmicky giveaway to grab headlines. (Sources: Washington Post, 05/13/2008; New York Times, 05/12/2008; 2007 Senates Votes #208, #225, #226, #416, #425, #430; Detroit Free Press, 07/09/2008)

Obama’s Plan on Speculators v. McCain’s Empty Rhetoric

  • Obama knows that Wall Street speculators are gaming the system and running up the price of oil at the expense of hardworking American consumers.  He supports the Consumer-First Energy Act of 2008 (S.3044), which would crack down on speculators and put in place other measures to protect consumers, make sure oil companies are paying their fair share on their record profits, and encourage the development of renewable energy. (Source: Associated Press, 06/10/2008) 
  • John McCain says he wants to take on speculators, but has refused to support the Consumer-First Act.  One of the biggest loopholes exploited by speculators—the so-called “Enron Loophole”—was put into law by one of McCain’s closest campaign advisers, former Senator Phil Gramm, who also blocked efforts to close the loophole in 2002. (Sources: Associated Press, 06/10/2008; Dallas Morning News, 06/29/2008)

Obama’s Plan to Make Big Oil Pay Its Fair Share v. McCain’s Texas-Sized Tax Cut for Big Oil

  • Obama wants to end the billions in subsidies and giveaways that the oil industry receives each year—at taxpayer expense.  He also wants to make sure Big Oil is paying its fair share on its tens of billions in record profits.  He would impose a windfall profits tax on oil companies that fail to invest their excess profits in the clean energy technologies we need to end our addiction to oil and fight global warming. (Source: Reuters, 06/09/2008)
  • John McCain has mocked Obama over his proposal for a windfall profits tax—even though McCain himself said he was open to the idea just two months ago. Meanwhile, he has proposed a tax plan that would offer a $3.8 BILLION tax cut to the five largest American oil companies alone.  This plan would cost a stunning $1.7 trillion overall and put any hope of balancing the budget well out of reach.  (Sources: New York Times, 06/17/2008; Grist, 05/16/2008; Center for American Progress Action, 05/27/2008, http://www.americanprogressaction.org/issues/2008/pdf/oil_tax.pdf)    

Offshore Drilling Reality v. Rhetoric

  • John McCain flip-flopped on offshore drilling and gave the oil industry exactly what it’s wanted for 30 years. (Source: Politico, 06/18/2008)
  • McCain claims that the Bush-McCain drilling plan would offer Americans “psychological” relief. (Source: ABC News, 06/24/2008) 
  • Even the Bush Administration admits that drilling offshore won’t do anything to lower gas prices today, tomorrow, or even a decade from now. (Source: Energy Information Administration)
  • Oil companies currently hold leases on 41,000,000 acres offshore, but a mere 8,123,000 of those acres are actually in production. (Source: House Natural Resources Committee)
  • More than 80 percent of the total oil available offshore is in areas that are already open to leasing. (Source: House Natural Resources Committee)

*Profits per driver were calculated using 2006 figures (the most recent available) for the number of licensed drivers in each state and the 2007 profit figures for the five largest oil companies: ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Shell.   

Paid for by the Sierra Club Political Committee, http://www.sierraclub.org/, and not authorized by any candidate or candidate's committee.

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