The White House has repeatedly rejected calls from legislators and transport workers for the use of oil from the federal Strategic Petroleum Reserve to influence prices.

 

Al Jazeera's Veronica Pedrosa reporting in Washington said truck drivers in some states protested against high diesel prices by pulling their vehicles off the road or driving slow enough to get a ticket for holding up traffic.

 

The US House of Representatives has passed legislation to take away tax breaks worth $18bn from US oil giants and to use the funds to support wind, solar and other renewable fuels and incentives for energy conservation.

 

Record profits

 

Bush is likely to veto any law taking away
billions in tax breaks from oil companies [AFP]
But the measure has not been passed by the senate and even if it is passed, would likely be vetoed by George Bush, the US president, who said oil companies should not be singled out from other manufacturers that enjoy the same tax incentives.

 

On Tuesday, a congressional committee grilled top executives of the five biggest US oil companies known as 'Big Oil' on their massive profits, and criticised them for taking tax breaks while world oil prices were at record levels.

 

Edward Markey, a Massachusetts Democrat, said he wanted to know why the oil industry was adamant about retaining tax breaks stretched over 10 years when it was reaping huge profits.

 

"These companies are defending billions of federal subsidies ... while reaping over a hundred billion dollars in profits in just the last year alone," said the chairman of the Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.

 

Exxon Mobil, Royal Dutch Shell, BP, Chevron and Conoco Phillips made a combined $123bn profits last year.

 

Earlier this week the American Petroleum Institute, which represents the big oil companies in Washington, defended the industry's huge profits as necessary to maintain global competitiveness.