North Dakota senator proposes windfall tax for oil companies

| 9/6/2005

Senator Byron Dorgan, D-ND, has called for the Federal Trade Commission to begin a formal investigation of oil and gas prices. Not only that, but he wants oil companies to pay back some of the money they’ve made in recent years.

Sen. Dorgan called for the investigation before Hurricane Katrina drove fuel prices into the stratosphere, but he told Land Line that there is an even greater need now for something to be done.

“I know that there’s not a free market with respect to the price of oil,” he said. “The price of oil is controlled by the OPEC countries and there is rampant speculation.”

Dorgan said those factors have led to “dramatic windfall profits” for all of the major oil companies.

“In the last 18 months, the price of oil has gone up over $30 a barrel,” he said. “That means the major oil companies, not having one additional penny of additional costs, have experienced $7 billion a month in additional profits. That’s $80 billion a year that comes at the expense of consumers.”

Dorgan is proposing a windfall profit tax that would recapture some of that money and return it to the consumers.

“I believe it’s unfair and it ought to be recaptured and rebated to consumers,” he said.

Dorgan said the only oil companies that would be exempt from the tax are those who take their windfall profits and invest them in exploring for new sources of oil or increasing refinery capacity.

By Terry Scruton, senior writer
Staff writer Reed Black contributed to this report