The oil industry just keeps pumping them out.
"Our earnings, though high in absolute terms, need to be viewed in the context of the scale and cyclical, long-term nature of our industry as well as the huge investment requirements," J.S. Simon, Exxon Mobil's senior vice president, told a House committee this morning.
Here's the lead parapgraph from the Associated Press story, and it says a lot:
"Top executives of the five biggest U.S. oil companies said Tuesday they know high fuel prices are hurting consumers, but deflected any blame and argued their profits -- $123 billion last year -- were in line with other industries."
I'd agree to a slight extent -- and only to a slight extent -- that Big Oil's costs rise like other industries. But that fades when you consider oil is a commodity which drives most of those other industries.
"Imposing punitive taxes on American energy companies, which already pay record taxes, will discourage the sustained investment needed to continue safeguarding U.S. energy security," Simon was quoted.
Well, imposing punitive prices on American energy consumers, which already pay record prices, will discourage the sustained investment needed in the U.S. economy.
Note that Simon used the scare word: "Security." An appeal to patriots, obviously.
I've noticed over the years that Big Oil backs down a little, and only for a while, if Congress puts on the pressure. Maybe we'll see oil prices level off for the summer. Maybe not.