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Dragged before Congress as gas prices explode at the pump, oil executives mounted a vigorous defense of their business practices on Thursday — pushing back against plans to eliminate tax breaks for the “big five” oil and gas companies.

All five executives acknowledged rising prices at the pump, but much of their testimony focused on the impact of a plan floated by Senate Democrats that would eliminate a raft of tax breaks.

Dubbed the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act, the bill would eliminate tax subsidies for just the five largest oil companies and direct those savings to pay down the deficit. Total deficit reduction: $21 billion over 10 years.

Rex Tillerson, CEO of Exxon Mobil called the tax proposal “misinformed,” “discriminatory” and “counterproductive.”

Shell President Marvin Odum also voiced opposition.

“It can be tempting to assume that there is something to gain by taking more from a few,” Odum said. “However, one must also balance the potential implications of increased industry costs on both supply and price.”

Chevron CEO John Watson, BP America Chairman Lamar McKay and ConocoPhillips CEO Jim Mulva also testified before the Senate Finance Committee.

The bill has virtually no chance of winning congressional approval, and analysts see it as a move designed to put Republicans on the defensive and capitalize on public anger over rising gas prices.

Questioned about whether the tax breaks are essential to promote exploration, each executive admitted they are not but said the subsidies are similar to those enjoyed by other industries.

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Article courtesy cnn.com

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