As gas prices spike, oil companies must justify billions in income, shareholder profits, NJ congressman says

As prices at the pump continue to rise, a New Jersey congressman is asking profitable oil and gas companies to justify millions of dollars in executive compensation, stock buybacks and how they use US tax law to benefit shareholders.

Rep. Bill Pascrell Jr., D-9th Dist., Sent letters to the executives of 11 oil and gas companies with revenue of more than $ 1 billion on Thursday.

“While it is bad enough American drivers are facing record high gas prices as Vladimir Putin conducts an illegal invasion of Ukraine, it is unpatriotic and unconscionable for any corporation to use the ongoing conflict as cover to gouge drivers even more,” Pascrell, the chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Oversight, wrote to the executives individually.

“I write to inquire whether (your company) is using federal tax benefits and manipulating our tax laws to reward shareholders with large dividends and stock buybacks, while pocketing record profits and simultaneously jacking up gas prices for American drivers,” he wrote.

In the first three quarters of 2021, the 24 top oil and gas companies around the world made a combined $ 174 billion in net income, Pascrell said. Since that time, gas prices have risen from around $ 2 per gallon in December 2020 to approximately $ 4.10 per gallon in March 2022, he said.

The average price of a gallon of gas in New Jersey was $ 4.37 on Friday, according to AAA.

Pascrell released the 11 companies ‘income for the first three quarters of the year, as well as their top executives’ compensation during that time.

Pascrell said taxpayers have a right to know, at a time of record profits for the industry, how the companies benefit from special oil and gas provisions of the tax code and other current tax law.

He specifically asked for details on stock buybacks and dividend increases, executive compensation for the past 10 years and each company’s lobbying activities.

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Karin Price Mueller may be reached at KPriceMueller@NJAdvanceMedia.com. Follow her on Twitter at @KPMueller.

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