Findlay, Ohio,
07:24 PM

Blog: Guardian article ignores reality

A May 12 article in the British publication The Guardian spotlights MPC as one of “[t]he world’s biggest and most profitable fossil fuel companies” receiving “huge and rising subsidies from U.S. taxpayers.” The article also hits ExxonMobil and Shell with similar allegations.

First of all, the claim that we’re receiving “subsidies from U.S. taxpayers” is false. Nobody took money from taxpayers and gave it to MPC.

What the story actually notes is a $78 million tax credit we received in 2011, which reduced our future tax bills by that amount, spread over 15 years. Why did we get the tax credit? It was to retain 1,650 well-paying jobs at our headquarters in Findlay, Ohio, and to create 100 new ones.

The tone of the Guardian article makes their stance clear: since fossil fuels shouldn’t even be brought out of the ground, the fact that any company profits from them is bad enough, and tax credits are an appalling abuse.

Setting aside the fact that The Guardian’s exhortation to “keep it in the ground” would result in widespread misery and death, let’s consider just the tax credit to MPC. An Ohio taxpayer might legitimately ask, “How has that tax credit worked out?”

As it turns out, we have retained the jobs we said we would, and not only created the 100 new jobs we said we would, but more than doubled the number of new jobs. We did that in just the first few years of the tax credit. On top of that, we’re also investing $80 million to expand our headquarters complex in Findlay, and MPLX, our sponsored master limited partnership, is planning hundreds of millions of dollars of investment in Ohio for pipelines and other projects.

And let’s look at an even bigger picture – our economic impact company-wide, rather than just in Ohio. Our income tax expenses in 2011 (the year the tax credit was granted) were $1.33 billion. The next three years, they were $1.85 billion, $1.11 billion and $1.28 billion. And this is in addition to the billions of dollars in other types of taxes we pay annually, as well as tens of billions of dollars we inject into the economy through our capital expenditures, procurement, payroll and benefits, and more.

In light of this information, consider this quote in the article from Ben Schreiber of Friends of the Earth: “There is a vibrant discussion about the best way to keep fossil fuels in the ground – from carbon taxation to divestment – but ending state and federal corporate welfare for polluters is one of the easiest places to start.”

Hmmm. Look at the dollars we pay to local, state and federal governments. Look at the money we pump into the economy through investing and buying and paying employees. And a reduction in our tax bill over 15 years is “corporate welfare?”

If that’s not playing fast and loose with reality, I’m not sure what is.