Amidst High Gas Prices, Tampa Activists Protest Big Oil Profits During Global Crisis

Rising gas prices demand federal action from Tampa Congresswoman Kathy Castor

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Climate and Energy

On Tuesday, activists from the University of South Florida, Food & Water Watch and other local youth-led organizations rallied at a local gas station near the University of South Florida campus to protest increasing gas prices that have been fueling oil and gas industry record profits. 

Activists called out the industry’s exploitation of the geo-political instability caused by the COVID pandemic and the Ukraine crisis. Activists protested skyrocketing gas prices, pointing out that right now Floridians are paying an average of $4/gallon, down only slightly from record-setting highs of $4.21/gallon last month. Oil and gas industry executives are profiting from this consumer price gouging, raking in millions.

Food & Water Watch Senior Florida Organizer Brooke Errett said:

“Fossil fuel companies like Exxon have been making record profits off of cascading crises that they are openly exploiting to gouge the public. Our federal elected officials must put an end to dangerous oil and gas industry profiting. Representative Kathy Castor must stand with Tampanians hurting at the pump by standing up to Big Oil & Gas and supporting a windfall profits tax in Congress.”

The groups urged Tampa Congresswoman Kathy Castor to co-sponsor and ensure passage of a windfall profits tax to stop Big Oil’s excessive profits at the expense of people and climate alike. Specifically, activists urged Representative Castor to support Representative Ro Khanna’s Big Oil Windfall Profits Tax Act (H.R. 7061) and Representative Peter DeFazio’s Stop Price Gouging Tax and Rebate Act (H.R. 7099). If passed, these bills would levy a tax on the oil and gas industry’s price gouging and return that money as rebate checks to consumers.

“Out of control income inequality is already here, and an unmitigated climate catastrophe is on its way,” said Tampa DSA EcoSocialist Working Group Co-Chair Monica Petrella. “Representative Castor can choose to stand up against Big Oil and Gas to protect families, communities, and everyone who is lucky enough to call earth home by supporting a windfall profit tax. The time for incremental change is behind us. It is now time for bold, progressive policies that put the working class first.”

Chanting “Keep It In the Ground,” protesters sent a clear message that ending fossil fuel use is necessary to combat the climate crisis. “A windfall profit tax addresses immediate needs of the community, but ultimately students and young people need our members of congress to stand strong in fighting back against the Fossil Fuel Industry and end our unsustainable reliance on fossil fuels,” said Florida Student Power Network Climate and Environmental Justice Organizer Mary-Elizabeth Estrada. “Members of Congress, it is time to show the people and especially young constituents that you are truly willing to take immediate action for climate change.”

“As we continue to extract oil and gas, big gas companies will continue to profit and cause more severe negative impacts of climate change. Florida is on the frontlines of the climate crisis with sea-levels rising, increasing amounts of storms, more flooding events, raising temperatures, and so on,” said Kate Koenig, USF Campus Organizer for GenCleo. “GenCleo is a youth advocacy program that is dedicated to educating and empowering the youth, high-school aged and college-aged students when it comes to ways to fight against the Climate Crisis.”

“In order to ensure a clean, safe, and equitable future for current and future generations, one of the largest challenges to tackle is the continued use of fossil fuels. And while the complete phasing out of these substances as a fuel source is the ultimate goal, it is still important that everyone has access to affordable and equitable transportation in the present, regardless of how that transportation is powered,” said Bobby Vose, 100% Renewable Energy Campaign Coordinator, Florida PIRG Students at USF. “This is why reducing the price of gas through cutting the exorbitant profits made by oil companies is so essential. Allowing everyone the means to affordably conduct their daily lives is an important first step to creating a better future for all, which is why it is so pivotal that the windfall profits tax passes in Congress.”

Contact: Phoebe Galt, [email protected]