As Americans were struggling to afford to survive due to skyrocketing gas prices and facing horrific environmental disasters worsened by the climate crisis, fossil fuel giant Chevron was having its most profitable year in history, the company’s latest revenue report reveals.
In its quarterly report published on Friday, Chevron announced that it collected a profit of $36.5 billion in 2022. This is more than double its profits from 2021 of $15.6 billion, and blows its previous yearly profit record out of the water, representing an increase of 36 percent from the former all-time high set in 2011.
These profits were due almost entirely to soaring gas prices in 2022, as both the huge increases in prices and the average prices themselves reached record highs with little to no regulation to stop fossil fuel companies from artificially inflating prices, using global inflation as an excuse.
“Chevron spent the last year raking in cash by price gouging consumers. And now they’re announcing $75 BILLION in stock buybacks as poor and working families continue to struggle,” wrote Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Washington) on Twitter. “This is corporate greed at its worst and it’s totally unacceptable.”
These profits emerged as lawmakers came out with the results of a bombshell investigation in the past year that helped expose Big Oil giants’ decades-long campaign to deceive the public, deny the existence of the climate crisis and buy social license to operate by greenwashing their own images — a scheme in which Chevron has been a major player.
Other companies that posted record profits last year were also involved in this campaign, overwhelming amounts of evidence show.
While Exxon has not yet posted its year-end profits, for instance, it has indicated in early reports that its profits for 2022 set a record for the company. After all, in October, Exxon posted that it had received a quarterly profit of $19.7 billion, breaking not only its own record for highest quarterly profits, but also the record for highest quarterly profits ever posted by any international oil company in history.
Still, there is little appetite among mainstream politicians to rein in fossil fuel companies, despite the industry appearing to blatantly price gouge the working class last year while paying next to nothing in taxes; as gas prices climbed in 2021 and Chevron posted profits of $15.6 billion for the year, for instance, it paid a mere 1.8 percent effective federal tax rate.
Some lawmakers have introduced legislation to tax Big Oil’s windfall profits; last year, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-California) and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-Rhode Island) introduced a bill that would levy a tax on excess oil barrel prices and redistribute the money back to the public. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) took the proposal one step further by introducing a bill that would implement a 95 percent tax on excess profits for large corporations across industries, not just for oil giants.
“This bounty for management and shareholders came out of consumers’ pockets, thanks to price-gouging by the international oil cartel. If my excess profits clawback law had passed, some of this money would be in your pocket instead,” Whitehouse wrote in response to Chevron’s stock buyback plan on Twitter on Friday. “A similar bill actually passed by conservatives in U.K.! But Republicans always put their fossil fuel patrons first.”
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