CHARLOTTE (QUEEN CITY NEWS) – For millions, paying at the pump has been painful. Now, profits are adding fuel to their frustrations.

“It’s the old saying, ‘the rich keep getting richer, and the poor keep getting poorer,’” Gary Nesbit said while pumping gas in North Charlotte.

Between April 1 and June 30, oil companies made record-breaking profits. Exxon made nearly $18 billion, Chevron made $11.6 billion, and Shell made $11.5 billion.

“They don’t care about the consumer. They don’t care about the planet. I mean that’s my take on it but it’s ridiculous, it’s ridiculous,” Kimberly Brooksbank said.

Back in 2020, a majority of oil companies went into the negatives. At the time, supply was high, and demand was low.

“Not only they couldn’t sell it, if they could it was at a very low price,” UNC-Charlotte Economics Professor John Connaughton said.

Fast forward to this year, it’s the opposite. Economists and gas experts say high gas prices and revenue are mainly a result of low supply spurred by the pandemic and war in Ukraine.

“The more it costs them, the more they ‘ve got to invest because it’s a percentage, the absolute numbers go up,” Connaughton said

“I don’t think it should be allowed personally. I think there should be a cap,” Nesbit said.

Back in March, advocacy groups back the Big Oil Profit Tax Act. The legislation would require oil companies to give a percentage of high profits to American consumers struggling to afford gas.

“Some people can’t get to work because they can’t afford the gas,” Brooksbank said.

In the 70s, the U.S. implemented a price cap at the pump, but economists said it only led to mass shortages.

“So, yeah, you may be uncomfortable right now paying $4 a gallon and earlier this summer it was $5 a gallon, you may be uncomfortable with that…but at least you have the choice,” Connaughton said.