Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Fill 'er up!

I read this week that the House of Representatives (and I’m beginning to wonder exactly whom they represent,) “overwhelmingly approved legislation allowing the Justice Department to sue OPEC members for limiting oil supplies and working together to set crude prices…”

Perhaps a better idea would be for Congress to sue themselves. Or maybe the voters of the United States could bring one giant class action lawsuit against the entire body politic. It is, after all, our legislators who have (1) written the tax breaks and subsidies for the oil companies, (2) accepted millions of dollars in campaign contributions, and (3) encouraged the Einstein of alternatives to gas — ethanol — which is now wreaking havoc on food prices around the world.
There are no more excuses. Though some elected ‘representatives’ will claim they didn’t create the legislation allowing oil and energy companies to blackmail the American consumer, they also didn’t work hard enough to change or block its passage. As our elected officials bemoan gasoline now at four dollars a gallon, it is their incompetence and greed that is driving the price skyward.
Gone are the days when legislators came to the House or Senate floor, presented bills for consideration, listened, argued and horse traded terms. Today, they run in just long enough to get their statement read into the Congressional Record, with few if any of their colleagues present, and then back to their offices to the real business of raising money for the next election.
If I hear one more politician rant about “ending our dependence on foreign oil,” I think I might scream.
Let’s begin with the market realities.
There are more nations becoming ‘westernized’ in this global economy. By modeling our spoiled culture of disposable items, new economies have grown increasingly dependent on gasoline and other petroleum based items.
A 42-gallon barrel of oil creates only 19.4 gallons of gasoline. The rest is used to make over 6,000 items from plastics to petrochemicals, balloons to bandages, dentures to dice. “Energy Independence” is just doublespeak for removing the restrictions and liabilities of environmental destruction.
Big Oil, in cahoots with members of Congress and the White House for years, is just waiting for the American people to throw up their hands and surrender the long-fought battle against drilling in our own backyards. Though our unstated oil policy has long been “Use theirs first” when the price goes high enough, all ecological bets are off and the rigs will pop up like wind farms.
Alaska’s North Slope isn’t the only game in town; MegaWest Energy Corporation is already drilling in Missouri, and geological surveys indicate “newfound reserves” in Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, North Dakota … and did I mention California?
Who in their right mind believes we will see a cost savings if we are drilling in the U.S. as opposed to the Middle East, Africa, Russia or South America? With gas at four dollars a gallon, do you think they’re going to return the profit to you if production costs are reduced … or to the shareholders, lobbyists and themselves?
Even as they raise their right hand in front of the kangaroo courts of Congressional hearings, Big Oil is masterful at the art of excuses, and they have way too many of them. Either it costs too much to refine, or it costs too much to drill, or it costs too much to look for new sources, or it costs too much to buy new legislators who write taxes into one bill, and give subsidies in another.
Sweet crude, indeed.
Does it disturb any of you that some of the deepest pockets in alternative energy investment today are ‘energy companies?’ Why, might you ask, would they invest in finding alternatives to themselves? Because that’s where our legislators are now writing all the tax breaks; so why wouldn’t they want to play both sides of the market? It’s a little like having the makers of heart defibrillators investing in fast food, if you catch my drift. Just listen to the Tony Strickland for Senate commercials being run for the November election.
If our President and Congress do not want to invest in ‘foreign’ oil, someone please tell me why we have expended hundreds of billions of dollars in a failed attempt to ‘own’ the drilling rights to Iraq’s petroleum reserves. There can be little doubt that the morass in which we are currently embroiled and the dead soldiers and citizens that litter the ‘war on terror,’ had less to do with building democracy, than building oil reserves.
I didn’t need Scott McClellan’s mea culpa best seller to know we were eager to turn Saddam’s nation into a service station. Even as our bombers spared Iraq’s Offices of Petroleum Production during the leveling of Baghdad, it’s been more about finding oil than finding bin Laden.
Back to our elected officials who, one way or another, have created this economic energy stranglehold, are suggesting we reduce prices at the pump by bringing in a layer of lawyers to sue OPEC.
Maybe I’m not smarter than a fifth grader after all, but when did lawyers ever reduce the ultimate price of anything? It’s a slope made slippery by black gold, and every single member of Congress has their hands in it, up to their elbows.
What to do, what to do? Throw every last currently elected official out of Washington the next time their election rolls around?
They’re all tainted – even the ones we love and admire at times must be removed under our expectation of a better government.
When the only answer our elected officials have to the solution of their own making is to ‘sue’ the very Organization of Petroleum Companies which they have relied on and emboldened for years, it is time for some ‘tough love.’ Either we greatly reduce the cost of elections through public funding and limited, free, equivalent media, or we throw out every last one of them and start over.
If we’re going for ‘change’ in this election, let’s go all the way.

Loretta Redd’s column appears every Tuesday in the Daily Sound. E-mail her at loretta@santabarbarafree.com


Anonymous said...

Right on sister!

Greg Knowles said...

Loretta for President! I'm not a huge fan of these oil companies, but you are right about the political machine being the biggest problemo. Republicans and Democrats are both to blame. Go Girl!