Big Oil’s Big Pay Day

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The oil giants—BP, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Shell—recently released their first quarter reports. Together, the big five’s profits were 38 percent higher in the first quarter of 2011 than the same period last year. A new report from the Center for American Progress finds that several of these companies used quite a bit of that extra money to buy back shares of their own stock, increasing the value of their shares and enriching their shareholders, boards of directors, and senior managers at a time when most Americans are dealing with extremely high gas prices.

ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil, and Chevron spent the most on share buybacks in the first quarter. Here’s what that looks like:

This spending spree comes not only as the gas price debate has resurged in Congress, but also as companies lobby to keep the $40 billion in tax breaks and loopholes that President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats want slashed from the 2012 budget.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

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It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

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It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

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Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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