Freethinking humanist with an interest in paleontology, astronomy, environmental issues, history and progressive causes.
A Penny A Day
That’s been the average daily increase in gasoline price at the pump in the USA for weeks now. In response to an NBC reporter, a spokesman for the American Petroleum Institute explained the steady rise was attributable to the rising price of crude oil. That’s sort of like saying a heat wave is caused by high temperatures.
Most experts blame faceless crude speculators—that they are unwilling or unable to identify–for price gouging. Certainly these masked men are taking advantage of the threats by Israel and many U.S. politicians to go to war against oil-rich Iran—a conflict that could also disrupt shipments out of the Persian Gulf— to push the price panic button. I’m not so sure they are completely unconnected to Big Oil.
In any case, Big Oil is exploiting the present suffering at the pump to redouble their efforts to obtain “energy independence” through unrestricted drilling in the Arctic region and off the West Coast—as well as completion of the Keystone XL pipeline from the Alberta tar sands.
One fact ignored by the media is that increasing the supply of crude would mean little to domestic gasoline production. Refineries were already running at virtually 100 percent before recent closings and accidents further reduced capacity. Any gasoline refined from the dirty syncrude coming through XL to Gulf of Mexico facilities will likely be exported.
The present oil crisis highlights twin dangers, economic and environmental. Working class consumers will have to reduce consumer spending even more. Non-energy capitalists feel the same consumer pain as the rest of us when fuel prices shoot up. Either they absorb the increases, cutting in to profits, or they raise their prices–losing customers, cutting in to profits. If not soon contained fuel gouging will bring about the second-dip recession.
Yielding to demands for more drilling–and especially embracing the dirtiest of all fuels from the tar sands–will inevitably create new environmental disasters. Even maintaining the status quo in oil consumption is leading to irreversible damage to our biosphere.
The only acceptable way to avoid both the economic and environmental threats from today’s oil market is to take oil–and all energy sources–out of the market. We need to nationalize the energy industry and run it according to a plan that can conserve and restructure our resources for an ecologically sustainable and full employment economy.
Week In Review
A Weekly Column by Bill Onasch
February 27, 2012
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