The heads of the nation's five major oil companies testified about their $30 billion in third-quarter profits before a joint session of the Senate's Energy and Natural Resources Committee and Commerce Committee.
A trio of chief executives from Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips testified, along with the presidents of BP America and Shell Oil Co. Pointing to supply problems in the aftermath of a record hurricane season, and consumers already facing the burden of high oil, gasoline and natural gas prices, some legislators have suggested consideration of a "windfall profits tax." The tax on oil company profits would help families pay high heating bills and other energy costs.Earlier this year, legislators pushed through the Energy Tax Incentives Act of 2005, which included more than $14.5 billion in energy industry incentives. The executives have said that, judged by scale, their profits are actually in line with those expected in other industries. Several of the executives noted that the industry is facing costs between $18 billion and $30 billion to repair damages from Hurricanes Katrina and Rita.
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