White House: Oil firm subsidies ‘crazy’ amid corporate profit reports

White House Press Secretary Jay Carney on Monday said major oil-and-gas company profit reports that will begin rolling out this week make the case for the administration’s push to end billions of dollars worth of industry incentives.

Companies including Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and ConocoPhillips Co. are slated to report their first-quarter earnings later this week, and the run-up in crude oil prices is expected to generate strong profits.

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“I think most Americans would agree with the president that it is simply crazy and unsustainable to continue to subsidize the oil-and-gas companies when we need to reduce our deficit and invest elsewhere,” Carney said at a briefing.

The comments Monday continue a White House push to put the spotlight on the oil industry amid the rise in gasoline prices — increases Republicans are seeking to lay at the feet of the administration.

Here’s more from Carney:

“Major oil-and-gas companies are going to report this week significant if not record profits. Given the constraints that we are under, given the need to tighten our belts, given the need to reduce the deficit, this president feels very strongly that it is inappropriate to continue those subsidies,” he said.

“And when Americans are going every day of the week to their local gas station and filling up and seeing a tank of gas cost $60, $70, $80 or more, I think they would be appalled to learn that major oil-and-gas companies will be announcing record profits this week,” Carney added.

He said it’s good for American companies to have profits, but that the country “can’t afford” the subsidies.

“We need to use that money elsewhere, we need to use that money for clean energy investment, so that we have the industries of the future and we can reduce our dependence on foreign oil,” Carney said.

The White House’s fiscal year 2012 budget proposal calls for ending about $4 billion per year in “inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that impede investment in clean energy sources and undermine efforts to address the threat of climate change.”

But such proposals have hit roadblocks on Capitol Hill in recent years. Many Republicans, oil-patch Democrats and the industry say that stripping the incentives would slow domestic energy development.