Oil is in everything one way or another. Gas tanks are a given, of course, but don't forget about packaging and transporting everything from fabric to food, says Kim Clark, of the Nebraska Corn Board. And high energy costs significantly increase the cost of production--no matter what's being produced, from widgets to breakfast cereal.
"We've had very high oil prices for much of this year, and we're all seeing it at the pump," says Clark. "Yet we're also seeing the impact of higher energy costs in every transaction in every store because high oil prices have an impact at every step in the process for just about everything we buy. It's taking dollars away from families and slowing our economic recovery."
High oil prices also mean soaring profits for global oil companies--ExxonMobil saw profits rise to $11 billion in the first quarter, up 69% from last year, she says. Shell saw a 22% gain, Chevron saw a 36% gain, ConocoPhillips jumped 43% and BP 16%. Profits rival those in 2008 when oil hit $147 a barrel and Exxon earned more than $45 billion, more than any publicly traded company in history.
"Despite massive profits year after year, many of which go overseas, the oil industry continues to fight to keep U.S. tax breaks, tax credits and other subsidies, some of which have been in place for nearly a century, not to mention the military cost of keeping shipping lanes open," Clark says. "How many decades do these companies need government support? Certainly we should consider the oil industry well established and able to stand on its own."
At the same time, the oil industry and its many offshoot organizations continue to bemoan any incentives for biofuels.
"They promote many myths and misinformation about biofuels like ethanol, and that is unfortunate because biofuels are our only hope of diversifying the fuel supply and producing more energy here at home," Clark says. "Instead of being part of the solution, they continue to promote false ideas that only make us more dependent on oil, even if that oil comes from the Middle East."