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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks On New Letter Urging The FTC To Investigate Big Oil Mergers

Washington, D.C. – Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding a new letter to the FTC, urging them to investigate mergers in the oil industry. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

Last month, America’s two largest oil companies – ExxonMobil and Chevron – announced two of the largest oil acquisitions of the twenty-first century, in fact some of the largest mergers in the history, in the whole history of the United States. And where are these mergers occurring? In the heavily concentrated oil industry, where the consumer has almost no say whatsoever.

These deals have all the hallmarks of harmful, anticompetitive effect, and if they’re allowed to happen, Americans could see the consequences through higher prices at the pump. People are complaining, justifiably, that gas prices are too high, and these mergers inevitably will make the price even higher.

So today I am leading a group of 22 Senators calling on the Federal Trade Commission to use the full powers of the FTC to investigate these mergers. In our letter, we say that if any antitrust laws may be violated, the FTC should step in and oppose the mergers.

You know, we broke up Standard Oil’s illegal monopoly in 1911. We’re quickly getting back to that place. The FTC should also investigate whether it’s time to break up today’s anticompetitive oil conglomerates.

When America’s largest oil companies can just buy some of their largest competitors – here we have Exxon, the biggest oil company in America, buying the largest oil driller in the Permian basin, which is the biggest U.S. oil field – it's outrageous. When the largest companies can control the lion’s share of the supply chain, when they are able to act with little accountability, the result is a raw deal for American consumers, American workers, and the American economy.

And this isn’t speculation – we’ve seen this happen before. In the 1990s, there were over 2,600 mergers across the petroleum industry. The number of major oil companies was cut in half. I'll never forget the day, this was a Democratic president, President Clinton, unfortunately, allowed the merger between Exxon and Mobil, two of the biggest oil companies. I opposed it at the time.

The result of these mergers and lax accountability was market manipulation, unstable supply, and ultimately price hikes for Americans. Well, why repeat that mistake? We cannot allow it.

With ExxonMobil’s merger with Pioneer and Chevron’s merger with Hess, we are seeing history repeat itself – more consolidation, less competition, maybe good for shareholders and big oil executives, but it ain’t good for America and certainly not good for the consumer who will inevitably pay more for gas, oil, and so many other things.

There is something deeply wrong about seeing the largest oil and gas companies in the world manipulate their way to higher profits as Americans are struggling at the pump. Last year alone, the world’s five largest oil companies saw record profits, $219 billion –more than double the profits of 2021.

And where did the profits go? Did it translate to lower prices for Americans? Did the companies invest in worker productivity? Or finding new, clean energy sources?

The soaring profits fueled soaring stock buybacks. Americans, meanwhile, saw higher prices every time they fill up the tank.

And another point about these mergers. At one point, the big oil companies said we understand that the world is moving in a direction of clean energy, we're going to move that way too. These mergers show they are not. They are not. They're simply investing in the old carbon resources that we know in the long run will do such damage to our world and our world economy, and yet they are just moving headlong in that direction. Short-term gain, long-term loss.

Mergers will accelerate these disturbing trends of high gas prices and less competition. So, we are calling on the FTC to look into the announcements made by ExxonMobil and Chevron, and step in if necessary.