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US Congress Grills Oil Company Executives About Profits

Members of the U.S. Congress have questioned top oil company executives about record-high oil and gasoline prices, record-high profits, and billions of dollars in tax breaks that help the companies.

The hearing before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming convened Tuesday as gasoline prices hit an average price of 86 cents a liter ($3.29 a gallon) across the United States.

The top companies together cleared $123 billion in profits last year, with Exxon reaping about one-third of that.

Majority Democrats asked why such profitable companies need $18 billion in tax breaks, and why they do not invest more money in renewable energy sources, such as wind or solar.

The executives say their profits are reasonable considering the huge size of their companies. They also argue that ending tax breaks will just make soaring oil costs hit consumers even harder.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.