Senior executives of the five largest U.S. oil companies will appear before a congressional committee Tuesday.
The lawmakers were scheduled to hear from top executives of Exxon Mobil Corp., Shell Oil Co., BP America Inc., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips. Together, those companies earned about $123 billion last year, because of soaring oil and gasoline prices.
The chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, said he wants to know why, with such profits, the oil industry is steadfastly fighting to keep $18 billion in tax breaks, stretched over 10 years.
He said executives would be asked to explain how they can get energy prices down in the short run and "in the long run what are they going to do to shift the focus to a renewable energy agenda."
The oil industry has argued on Capitol Hill and at the White House that the tax breaks are needed to assure continued investment in exploration, production and refinery expansions.