Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto asked very pointed questions of this Shell Oil VP — namely, why are they using profits for payouts to shareholders instead of increasing oil production?
March 11, 2022

Quick, someone please introduce Peter Doocy to Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto! She's talking to the people HE should be talking to, and asking the questions HE should be asking before he comes into Jen Psaki's press briefings with his idiotic assertions that the Biden administration has anything at all to do with gas prices!

Today, the Nevada Democratic senator grilled a Shell Oil company executive demanding to know exactly why they weren't doing exactly what Jen Psaki has been patiently explaining to Doocy they should be doing: working to increase the oil supply to lower prices at the pump.

Sen. Cortez Masto pointed out, "In recent days, major oil companies in the United States have said that they would rather use their earnings from higher prices to boost payouts to shareholders, and expand their operations slowly, rather than rush to drill new or develop existing wells. So, Ms. Hirstius, my question to you is, can you explain at a time like this, why your company would be prioritizing payouts to shareholders rather than working to increase our oil supply?"

Colette Hirstius strung some words together into some phrases, none of which began to answer the question.

"At this time, I think it's important that we continue to proceed to increase all of the energy sources that we have," said Hirstius. "And that includes looking at what are the levers that we have to make sure that we can add additional electrons to the system. Because when we add electrons..."

I'm sorry, "electrons?" It's possible I'm missing some context, because the video begins in the middle of the questioning session, but how exactly does the electron fit in here? Are we being metaphoric? Poetic? Literal? Regardless, there's nothing in there that answered the question of why oil companies are prioritizing payouts to shareholders over moves that could help lower prices at the pump, so Cortez Masto reclaimed her time.

"Thank you, I only have so much time, but my question is this, directly. Why are you prioritizing your payouts to your shareholders instead of working to increase the oil supply," she repeated, and tried to phrase it differently. "Let me ask you, would your company be willing to forego paying out dividends to pass along that relief to consumers, who are seeing high prices in my state and across the country?"

Hirstius hedged some more, saying, "The prices are something that we do not control, I think that you said that yourself. The way in which we prioritize..."

"So you would not be willing to pass off your dividends actually to consumers who are hurting right now," determined Cortez Masto from the fact that she was hearing no answer to her very simple question.

Hirstius got even vaguer with this completely useless promise: "We are committed to continue to invest and make sure that our production does not decline."

Cutting her losses, Cortez Masto said, "Okay, I've only got so much time, so let me move on here, because I didn't get an answer to my question."

Well, she kind of did get an answer, but the answer is that the oil companies clearly care more about rewarding shareholders than consumers, and that while they promise not to decrease production, they're not doing anything to increase their production either, even though they could very easily do that, helping to lower gas prices at the pump. They have the money. They have the approved permits to drill. They have the profits. They'd just rather give those profits to their shareholders than spend it on developing new sources right at their fingertips.

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