Edwards wants probe of oil companies

Democratic presidential hopeful John Edwards on Thursday called for a federal investigation into possible antitrust violations by the oil industry and criticized oil companies for raising gas prices.

"There's absolutely no justification for the gas companies to be as profitable as they are and have the taxpayers subsidizing the industry," Edwards said.

The former senator from North Carolina spoke to reporters during a brief campaign stop at a restaurant in Silicon Valley to outline an energy plan he said would help get America "off its oil addiction."

Wendy Li, the co-owner of a family run sheet metal manufacturing company in San Jose, joined Edwards during the appearance to tell him how soaring gas prices have put financial pressure on the business and her family.

"It's holding us hostage," said Li, an Edwards campaign volunteer. "And you can't just say 'drive less.'"

Edwards said his plan would seek to provide economic relief while increasing industry oversight and reducing America's petroleum-reliant habits. It proposes:

  • An independent Justice Department investigation into the wave of mergers of oil companies, the cause of higher gas prices and possible remedies.
  • Raising federal auto fuel economy requirements to 40 miles per gallon from the current 27.5 mpg by 2016.
  • Expanding use of biofuels such as ethanol, including a requirement for oil companies to make available E-85 fuel (which has 85 percent ethanol) at a quarter of their stations. Edwards wants all new cars to be able to use E-85 by 2010.
  • Mandatory restrictions on emissions of carbon dioxide with an aim to cut greenhouse gases by 80 percent by mid-century.
  • Creating a $13 billion energy fund from the sale of greenhouse gas permits and ending some tax breaks for the oil industry. The money would be used to support biofuels and conservation technologies.

Tupper Hull, spokesman for the Sacramento-based Western States Petroleum Association, said the region's high gas prices reflect market rates, and an antitrust investigation would be a waste of time. He said the industry has been the subject of more than 20 state and federal investigations over the past two decades.

Rival Democratic presidential candidates, including Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, also have called for expanded ethanol use and other measures to reduce U.S. reliance on oil.


Associated Press Writer Rachel Konrad in San Francisco contributed to this story.


  1. www.nazilieskill.us

    If a company is tainted by crime, it should be taken over by the government. It’s stock should be forfeit and its charter should be revoked. (We do the same for drug dealers and they are no different.)

    John Hanks, Laramie, Wyoming

  2. Steve Horn

    between a chartered corporation and a drug dealer. So you’re saying that, say, the CEO of GM does something crooked that every stockholder of GM should get screwed, that all the workers should be displaced and that the government should take over the factories ?

    Follow that argument to its logical (but rather absurd) conclusion and you have personal responsibility for the invasion of Iraq –


  3. LurkingFromTheLeft

    …the government is tainted by crime – or

    …isn’t that the fox watching the henhouse?


  4. Steve Horn

    So it’s newsworthy that the oil companies are gouging the taxpayers – wow – I really hadn’t noticed when I filled my tank – although I do recall that when we’d vanquished Iraq the price of fuel was supposed to drop – as the Iraqi oil started to flow into the pipeline once again – oh wait – that’s right – Bush said that – there I go again – believing the President – sorry.

    And it was noticed by a guy who pays 400 bucks for a haircut – just a regular guy. Wonder how much he pays the guy who feeds him his opinions ….

    And the oil companies aren’t gouging – they’re our friends – they NEED those profits so they can purchase all available farm land – that way when we switch to bio-fuels THEY’LL still be in control!

    And as regards bio fuel – a significant percentage of this worlds population is under or mal-nourished – once we start switching from growing food to growing fuel – any bets on the situation of those folks getting still worse? As some seed companies are talking about genetic alterations of grain to maximize its value for bio fuel – what are the implications when those altered genetics get mixed into the food crops? Could we perhaps see a total collapse of our food supply? Betcha nobody’s paying attention to that possibility – maybe EXXON has a plan ….

    Alcohol, by the way, has around 50% of the energy potential per unit of weight compared to gasoline – so if you’re running gasoline and getting 30MPG you’ll get around 15MPG running 100% ethanol – that is an inescapable fact – as making ethanol is pretty cheap – especially when compared to the technology required to convert crude oil into gasoline – no WONDER they want you to start using it – they can sell you twice as much per year at a great profit – something else that doesn’t get mentioned very often.


  5. nuQler Ostrich

    More Americans hit the road over the recent Memorial Day holiday than ever before.

    This past weekend created the most demand ever for gasolene.

    And no drivers had any problems filling their gas tanks at the highest prices ever for gasolene.

    There was no supply problem. There was plenty of supply.

    So don’t tell me the record high prices are because of supply and demand when demand is at it’s highest and there is plenty of supply. That dog won’t hunt.

    Exxon Mobile had a 3% tax bracket last year.

    Where’s my 3% tax bracket?

    That rhetoric of supply and demand was completely debunked by the facts after Hurricans Katrina when refineries along the Gulf Coast were shut down. Creating a demand of ZERO for oil, and yet the price went up.

    So stop pissing on my leg and telling me it’s raining.

  6. JudyB

    I cannot think of any business, that when it has to close down one of its stores (for any reason) just marks up the cost of the merchandise in its other stores to make up for the lost revenue caused by that closing….that is of course..other than the highly profitiable oil business.
    I don’t care what excuses the oil companies use for their raising prices, as long as they continue making extremely high profits and we the public are forced to subsidise them, there is something wrong wrong wrong!!
    I am sure if they were to have an honest investigation and put someone with an ounce of integrity and a pound intelligence in charge of it, they would find what is very wrong and put a stop to it once and for all.

    http://pol.moveon.org/stoppricegouging/ has a legitimate petition for those who might be interested in signing it to try and stop the price gouging.

    ***In Feb. 2007 it was reported that Mobil-Exon alone made 39.5 billion dollars in profits for 2006 and continued the 1st quarter of 2007 with another 9.3 Billion dollars in profits.

  7. Arlo J. Thudpucker

    The industry itself should be nationalized.

    We are currently being Enroned, and it’s clear that there will be no relief.

    We are being bled dry by the New Robber Barons. They happen to control the administration, and a good percentage of Congress.

    Note that corporations behave like pyschopaths.

    Unfortunately, the penalties imposed on a corporation whose behavior is judged criminal is typically an insignificant fine.

    They just absorb it, and raise prices accordingly. It’s not a deterrent at all. JQ Public pays the fine.

    If ALL the executives and the stockholders stood to lose their jobs AND their investments, I’d bet there would be far better oversight.

    Consider it capital punishment for the corporation.

    The remaining shell of the corporation, sans crooked executives and stockholders, would be sold to a competitor.

    The workers tehmselves would be largely untouched.

    “Corporate dissolution” would provide a very strong incentive for the management and employees of a corporation to keep it on the level.

  8. Dayahka

    Instead of attacking the oil companies, it would be far better for the environment and the future of the planet were Edwards to suggest that gas prices be raised even further–anything to break Americans’ habit–and that the profits be split between investors and renewable energy research and development. The price of gas so far affects perhaps a few people who drive for a living, but most people simply live to drive. This issue is a non-starter for Edwards. He’s close to being finished as a candidate anyway.