Washington, D.C. – Chair Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.) today issued the following statement after the chief executive officers of three oil companies—EOG Resources, Devon Energy Corporation, and Occidental Petroleum—refused to testify at a Natural Resources Committee hearing scheduled for Tuesday, April 5 at 1:00 pm Eastern time. The hearing would have examined the fossil fuel industry’s failure to help stabilize gas prices during the ongoing crisis in Ukraine despite their record profits. In absence of the CEO’s participation, the hearing will not go forward.
“As rising gas prices started hurting Americans, fossil fuel industry trade groups and their allies in Congress wasted no time placing blame on the Biden administration and pushing for a drilling free-for-all. But when you look at oil companies’ record profits, these claims don’t add up,” Chair Grijalva said. “I invited these companies to come before the Committee and make their case, but apparently they don’t think it’s worth defending. Their silence tells us all we need to know—that cries for more drilling and looser regulations are nothing more than another age-old attempt to line their own pockets.”
Devon, EOG, and Occidental are among the most significant oil and gas operators on public lands and waters. Together, they hold over 4,000 leases covering nearly 1.5 million acres of public land and over 2,800 approved and unused drilling permits. The three companies experienced record profits over the past year, totally nearly $9 billion. According to a recent report, the top five executives at EOG received over $28 million in total compensation in 2021.
A recent survey from the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas shows that business strategy and investor pressure—not government regulations—are responsible for current trends in domestic energy production. The three invited companies’ recent announcements and earnings calls reiterate these findings:
- Devon’s CEO announced that it plans “no change to our cash return playbook. It will be more of the same. We will be relentlessly focused on delivering high returns with capital employed, margin expansion, accelerating free cash flow growth, and returning excess cash to shareholders.”
- Occidental’s CEO told its investors that its “intent is to follow our cash flow priorities and capital framework that we will share with you today. We have no need and no intent to invest in production growth this year.”
- EOG’s CEO told its investors “our disciplined capital plan is focused on high return reinvestment to continue improving our margins in not only 2022 but in future years as well. Third, we are committed to returning cash to shareholders.”
The multinational bank Barclays recently confirmed that regulatory changes from the Biden administration are not slowing production on federal land.
Earlier this month, Chair Grijalva authored an opinion piece in The Guardian rebutting the fossil fuel industry’s opportunistic claims that oil and gas companies need more access to drilling on public lands and waters following Vladimir Putin’s attack on Ukraine.
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