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Your e-mails: 'Americans depend on oil to survive'

CNN.com readers share thoughts on oil companies and gas prices

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(CNN) -- A Senate hearing on high oil prices comes as consumers face a jump of 50 percent or more in home heating bills this winter. Gasoline prices are nearly 20 percent higher than a year ago, though they have retreated in recent weeks. Meanwhile, the industry's third-quarter profits jumped 62 percent to about $25.9 billion.

CNN.com and CNN's "Live Today" asked readers about their opinions on high gas prices. Here is a sample of their responses, some of which have been edited:

The oil companies have taken greed to the extreme. Stating billions in profits last quarter only proves that the American public is being legally robbed at the pumps. This crime, in my opinion, is worse than the terrorist's attacks, these are other Americans deliberately harming (monetarily or otherwise) all Americans.
Tim George, Santa Maria, California

Americans are extremely lucky to be able to purchase a gallon of gas for less than the price of a gallon of milk. Although I have access to the station on base in Keflavik, we occasionally have to buy gas on the local economy. In fact, this afternoon I spent 900 ISK for 8 liters of gas. In US dollars, I spent about $15 for two gallons. Food and clothing are equally expensive here. U.S. citizens should be grateful and learn to cut back. Especially those who insist on driving huge SUVs and then complain about the price of gas!
Jennifer D., Reykjavik, Iceland

I believe that the government needs to do more in order to reduce the need for oil by Americans. I honestly don't believe that the current gas price is such a bad thing. Maybe this will cause some people to stop driving for pointless reasons.
Casey Clark, Cedar Falls, Iowa

I believe the oil companies are ripping the American people off. The rich fat cats in Washington sit on their hands because they are in league with the oil companies. Due to this the poor get poorer. I used to save and invest on a regular basis. Since the increase in oil prices I have not had any extra money to invest. I also find myself putting off new purchases. I am spending almost $120 extra per month on gas for my car, not to mention what kind of expense heating my home this winter will be. It is ludicrous that the government is letting these oil companies steal our hard earned money!
Mark, Cranberry Township, Pennsylvania

The oil companies are doing what all companies do. Maximizing profits. The only way to lower gas prices is to lower demand.
Andrews, Waukegan, Illinois

My view with the gas companies is not that great. I cannot believe that they are profiting at a time like this when they should be helping the citizens of this world. They say that they take their profits and invest them in R&D for new fuel sources to be able to extract them for us. However, if this is the case, they should have said that when the news hit that they are making such profits that it seems like they are gouging the world. I know that they need to make profit to be in business but they also need to keep in mind that they are in charge of a resource that the whole world uses and they directly affect the lives of people. In reality, natural resources should be under government control, but for efficiency's sake and pricing they are not. These companies need to be partners with the global community and try to help in any way possible to lessen the impact of oil prices. For some, they appear like greedy oil "barons" who have no regard for the rest of the world. They need to be more transparent to the world community and explain why we have such high prices. The UN needs to really start implementing plans as to when an oil source is not producing much where we can get some more in another place.
John, Sterling Heights, Michigan

Why does a precious commodity like oil fluctuate so much? This is responsible for inflation, which has jumped considerably while we get our 4 percent raises. Oil prices should be set by the government and should rise with the cost of inflation, not $1.50 a gallon in a quarter. We need to push our politicians to look at other sources of energy like ethanol fuel. We need to follow the example of Brazil and have a mandatory ethanol pump at every station. We need to convert to this fuel. It only makes sense to do this since it can be grown in our country with all of the wheat, corn and other sources for ethanol like sugar cane. Stop buying into this old oil technology and demand we make a change. How can we do this with an oil monger as President?
Joe McDermott, Middletown, New York

Americans depend on oil to survive. People taking advantage of others less fortunate than them is ALWAYS wrong, no matter how it is disguised. Gasoline and heating oil are not luxury items. These products are needed for survival. Oil profits are up (75% in some cases) at a time they shouldn't be. It is clear to the American people that large oil companies took advantage of us and used the hurricanes as an excuse. This is not acceptable and cannot be tolerated. My family is doing our part. We have found ways to dramatically decrease our driving and are installing electric heat for the winter. I hope others who are able to do so will also find a way to limit oil and gas usage.
W. Christopher, Marion, Indiana

Much has been said lately about a windfall profits tax on oil companies. Despite the high gas prices and record profits, I feel this is actually a good thing in the long run. This is forcing American consumers to conserve and look for alternative fuels and transportation. It will also force the government fund projects to find new and alternative energy sources. The huge profits being raked in by these oil companies, if used properly, can go a long way to funding exploration for new sources of oil and refinery building to boost capacity. It hurts now, but in the long run, I think we'll be better off.
Zach, Chicago, Illinois

I think the hearings being held today are simply a farce. The CEO's are not going to take any blame for their outrageous profits. In a capitalist society, it is the ultimate goal to make profits. Furthermore, the so called committee is simply making it possible for the oil companies to excuse themselves for being capitalists. I think the entire hearing is little more than a staged event. Congress has been pressured to investigate but this is simply a scripted event where the oil companies are making excuse after excuse. Nothing will come of it because the oil companies have already responded by dropping prices to pre-hurricane levels.
Rob, North Providence, Rhode Island

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