"Exxon and Mobil (or is it Texaco?) pay no U.S. income tax, they actually get money back. The other big oil companies pay a small amount."
What money did they get back? Was it money they already paid or tax credits? You and I probably get money back for overpayment of taxes, and we get tax credits (deductions) too.
It is Exxon-Mobil. The other company is Chevron-Texaco. You are referring to 2009 taxes. Exxon-Mobil paid $15 billion in income taxes in 2009, but none in the US. Totally legal. The largest US company is Wal-Mart. They paid $7.1 billion in income taxes. $5.9 billion in the US. Exxon-Mobil has a larger global footprint and generates more total tax dollars. If the US would charge all individual and companies the same percentage of income tax, say 10%, more US companies would re-structure their operations and bring the tax money home. 10% of all incomes is better than 0% of some large corporations, assuming income tax is even beneficial or acceptable. BTW, Exxon-Mobil paid 47 percent of its profits in taxes of some sort.
Also keep in mind that income tax is not the only tax individuals and companies pay. For companies like Exxon-Mobil they pay more money in total taxes than they realize in net income!!
Today in the US, most people are concerned about jobs. High taxes are causing companies to go overseas, or structure their organizations to pay income taxes in other countries. These are global companies, they do business all over the world, and every country and locality wants a piece of their pie. Unchecked, these taxing entities would eat the entire pie, and then complain that the company is not socially responsible. High taxes are causing companies to try and figure ways to reduces expenses and eliminate jobs.
"There's a lot of gas tax paid in the U.S., but that's supposed to pay for highway construction."
Not all of the collected gasoline taxes go to road construction. For years Californians paid a road tax plus a sales tax on gas. A lot of the sales tax worked its way into the general fund. When a gasoline retailer (gas station) receives gas, they pay a lot of taxes that are not ear-marked for roads. One example is the per-gallon EPA Super-fund tax. These taxes are passed on the the consumer.
Oil companies pay taxes at the research, extraction, transportation, refining, and delivery points in the supply chain. They pay real estate taxes, capital equipment taxes, inventory taxes, license fees, permit fees, DMV taxes, special use taxes, state and local taxes, FICA, etc., etc. They have invested billions in infrastructure to minimize pollution from their refineries. The actual construction of a single gas station has sophisticated systems for the elimination or mitigation of vapors, tank leaks, monitoring and response systems. Most gas stations in the US are built and owned by the oil companies, and leased to dealers. Again huge taxes paid to local governments for just the operation of gas stations.
Oil companies spend billions to reduce emissions. The other side of the coin is the potential pollution from the end users such as cars or even you, if you use a canister stove. The oil companies cannot control possible emissions from these sources. But those industries also pay a large amount in taxes and pollution remediation measures. A lot of this pollution problem lies with us. For example, someone driving a 1985 Honda is really driving around in a gross polluter, compared to the new cars today, and I am not talking about the EV or Hybrids, just about the standard run of the mill vehicle. Want to help? Get rid of those old polluting cars! Plus new cars get much better mileage, which will reduce our oil consumption. When we point fingers, sometimes we need to turn our hand around and point our finger at ourselves.
"The oil companies rely on a stable supply of oil from the middle East and other places. A large part of our military costs go for maintaining this stable supply. I don't think we would have gone into Iraq or Afganistan if not for this."
Was this oil driven? Perhaps some of it was. But we were attacked and our mindset was to retaliate. I agree with you here. Both wars were a mistake. With this I will include every war since WWII and all the "actions" we have been involved in. We need to get our military out of all countries. It is not the job of government to "protect our business interests." Nor is nation building.
But the bottom line of all of this is whether we as humans are changing our climate. We are, but research indicates it is minimal and the climate will self correct. We have much larger environmental problems. And companies are not causing all of them. We are. We have too many people on this planet. And we keep reproducing. We will reproduce until we overwhelm all our natural resources. And under the right circumstances, all species will overpopulate themselves... then a large percentage of the population dies off, nature keeps this in check.