Rebuts Ericksen's claims on oil profitability

COURTESY TO THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 14, 2013 

State Sen. Doug Ericksen, R-Ferndale, recently argued to maintain a tax loophole for oil refineries rather than to fund other priorities like schools and students. He made some statements that I find are untrue.

He said "Washington's five refineries are low-margin operations." The facts are that BP made $25.7 billion profit in 2011; CEO Bob Dudley's pay package was $2.673 million. Shell made $20.1 billion in 2011 profit; CEO Peter Voser's pay package was $6.6 million. Conoco Phillips made $12.4 billion profit in 2011. Tesoro wasn't profitable in 2010, but that didn't stop them from spending over $2 million on an initiative to do away with California's global warming law. They were back in the black by 2012, with $546 million in profits.

Ericksen also said, "Imposing additional operating costs on Washington refineries will make them less competitive." In truth, 29 other states have use taxes on refineries; only one, Alabama, has a similar but narrower loophole. Why should Washington be the only state to offer such a widespread tax break for extracted fuels at oil refineries? And why would Washington strive to be more like Alabama than any other state?

Under what principle would the senator prefer tax loopholes for profit-making corporations and their over paid CEOs rather than funding economic security, sustaining communities, protecting our environment and supporting education -- all potentially suffering under the current Senate budget proposal?

Ruth Higgins

Birch Bay

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