ConocoPhillips CEO Mulva refuses to apologize for saying it is “un-American” to end oil subsidies

On Wednesday, ConocoPhillips CEO Jim Mulva outraged many on Capitol Hill when he released a statement calling it “un-American” to end subsidies to the Big 5 oil companies “” ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips. A press release referencing the subsidies posted on the company’s website was headlined: “ConocoPhillips Highlights Solid Results and Raises Concerns Over Un-American Tax Proposals at Annual Meeting of Shareholders.”  Think Progress has the story and video.

This position is a stark reversal from what Mulva said just a few years ago. In 2005, he testified that he agreed with President Bush’s assessment that with “$55 oil, we do not need incentives to oil and gas companies to explore.” Mulva testified, “With respect to oil and gas exploration and production, we do not need incentives.” But with oil prices now hovering around $100 per barrel, Mulva has inexplicably changed his tune.

Yesterday Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) called Mulva’s “un-American” statement “truly outrageous” and said he expected Mulva to apologize. At today’s Senate Finance Committee hearing with the oil CEOs, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-NY) repeatedly pressed Mulva for an apology, but the ConocoPhillips CEO refused to give one, claiming “nothing was intended personally” by his press release. Schumer then pressed the other oil CEOs to state their views:

SCHUMER: I want to ask you a specific question, do you think anyone who advocates cutting these subsidies is un-American? Yes or no, sir. That one we deserve a yes or no answer on, it was your release that said “un-American.” Yes or no?

MULVA: Senator, maybe you can hear me out on this because it’s a very important question.

SCHUMER: Do you apologize for it?

MULVA: Make no mistake, were these proposals enacted”¦they would place U.S. oil companies like our company”¦

SCHUMER: Sir, I have limited time. I know your view. Do you consider it American to have another view? Yes or no?

MULVA: Senator, I believe policies under consideration are going to have a very adverse impact with respect to energy policy.

SCHUMER: There are many people who disagree with that. “¦ Do any of you others consider it un-American to be against the subsidiy that you’re for? If you do, raise your hand?

[No one raises their hand.]

SCHUMER: Alright, thank you I appreciate the other four of you not labeling those who are different from you un-American.

Remarkably, after Schumer wrapped up his questioning, Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) rushed to Mulva’s defense and echoed his claim that it was “un-American” to end tax breaks for big oil companies. “Now, I’d call that sort of un-American “” sorry, Chuck.” Watch it:

Democrats demanded the CEOs explain why they need special tax breaks when gas prices are above $4 a gallon in much of the country and their companies are raking in record profits. Earlier this week, Democrats in both the House and Senate unveiled legislation that would close the tax loophole for the top 5 oil companies “” who collectively made $36 billion in the first quarter alone “” and use the money to pay down the deficit. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) has scheduled a vote for next week on a bill that would repeal $21 billion in oil subsidies over the next 10 years.

Ex-Shell CEO John Hofmeister recently told the National Journal, “In the face of sustained high oil prices it was not an issue “” for large companies “” of needing the subsidies to entice us into looking for and producing more oil.”

A Think Progress repost.

14 Responses to ConocoPhillips CEO Mulva refuses to apologize for saying it is “un-American” to end oil subsidies

  1. Or we could ask why we have a system that REQUIRES corporations to act so irresponsibly.

    Carbon fuel industries are suborning mass murder.
    Government is failing to protect citizens – because government now represents the new citizens they call corporations.

    We may not realize the failure of this system in time to effect change to allow survival.

  2. jen says:

    Of course it is “unAmerican” to challenge those subsidies. As the recent budget debates make clear, America is all about empowering those in power and enriching those who are already rich- and the rest of us be damned. What is unforgivable is that we’ve allowed these forces to buy our votes from us. The ballot box is the only sure way to swing this country back into a government with policies that truly reflect the best interests of the majority of its citizens, including the children who will have to live in the world we’re ruining for them.

  3. MarkF says:

    what does “unAmerican” mean?

    seriously, what a ridiculous usage.

  4. Joan Savage says:

    ConocoPhillips has operations in 26 countries, including the US.

    Does Mulva approach each and every country where ConocoPhillips does business and suggest to them that to fail to provide financial inducements is un-Algerian, un-German, un-Kazakh, un-Nigerian, un-Vietnamese, etc.?

    Just wondering.

  5. Chris Winter says:

    Right: It’s “unAmerican” to cut oil-industry subsidies or impose higher taxes on the rich, but everything else — NPR, school lunches, etc. — is up for grabs.

    I’m trying to come up with a fitting acronym for this. My first try was TUPAC (Tycoons Urgently Protesting Unamerican Commonsense). But that doesn’t cut it.

    Then I came up with “Plutocrats Against Preservation (PAP).” That’s closer, but I need a better word than “preservation.” Maybe somebody can help me out here…

  6. Chris Winter says:

    Richard Pauli wrote: “Or we could ask why we have a system that REQUIRES corporations to act so irresponsibly.”

    Based on his book Supercapitalism, Richard Reich would have an answer. He would say that, under our current system of little regulation, any corporation that doesn’t act that way would shortly lose out to its competitors that do.

    Professor Reich’s solution is for us to demand Congress pass laws to level the playing field, thus restoring the situation that prevailed 1947-1973 in this country. Then competition was less cutthroat, so CEOs had the freedom to devote some time and funding to doing the right thing.

    There’s something to it.

  7. Leif says:

    So it is un-American to allow Capitalism and Corporations to rape and pillage natural resources that belong to the commons, grossly inflate the riches of the few at the expense of the many, leave trash ecosystems for eons to come and leave the remaining people of the earth to clean, mitigate, suffer or die as a consequence of their actions. How American. A legacy to be proud of.

  8. nyc-tornado-ten says:

    The wall $treet media keeps saying that gasoline prices are falling, but according to the daily AAA survey, it went up 2 cents yesterday, to 3.98, only a penny off the recent high. It is possible that there are shipping problems due to the historic climate catastrophes in the south – central states, but no one is reporting this.

  9. Barry says:

    Hey, you can’t expect Big Oil to carry on a business that barely makes them a billion dollars a day without also getting huge tax breaks to spur them on. It just isn’t done.

    That oil will sit and rot in the ground regardless of how insanely profitable it is to get it out unless Big Oil feels some serious American taxpayer love. After all, corporations are only human too.

    ConocoPhillips can’t be expected to live on billions in profit alone. Without tax breaks it just isn’t worth the trouble.

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    jen #2 said precisely what I wished to say, and said it beautifully and succinctly. I would have been too verbose.

  11. walkingdead says:

    People we are all well and truly fucked. Humans are busy digging their own grave and it’s way past too late to repair the damage. Hasn’t got anything to do with religion or fate or politics or any other bullshit you call it. It’s just overpopulation of a self-destructive species….

  12. Is there a more perfect demonstration that corporations and their CEOs are *not* capitalists since they will defend to the death their government handouts, subsidies and whatsoever while at the same time begrudging the pennies and dimes which the government “wastes” on providing health care and other assistance to the poor, the powerless and all those unfortunate people who cannot lobby Congress directly for their handouts?

    Capitalism died a long time ago.

    In the United States of America we have socialism for the corporations and the wealthy and capitalism for the poor. Too bad that a significant majority of the poor consider it their patriotic duty to protect handouts for corporations and tax cuts for the wealthy while they watch their future crumble away into dust and failed promises.

  13. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    David Mathews #12, I could not agree more. The planting by the Masters of a false social and class consciousness in the dregs of the lower classes, whereby these ‘losers’ identify strongly with their oppressors and direct all their rapidly accumulating rage at those even worse off than themselves, their peers and numerous ‘Official Enemies’ selected on racial and sectarian grounds, is one of the most perplexing and depressing features of the process of species self-destruction we are presently enduring. There is a global civil war going on, fomented by the parasite class, where humanity is being divided, over and over, into competing fractions, and then set at each others’ throats. And in this atmosphere we are supposed to work together to avert global disaster. Do me a favour!

  14. Leif says:

    The really strange thing to my eyes is that Capitalism and Corporations are so addicted to short term profits that even in the light of long term environmental collapse and curtain death to the very existence of the Capitalistic Corporate structure that spawned them they cannot be appeased. Very Strange…

    If we all could paddle in the same direction the future, though not guaranteed at this late date, indeed would look bright.