As we travel to the beach for the 4th of July, we pay more for gas than ever before. This should be a driving force for us to end the dominance of energy and foreign policy by a destructive, rule and ruin cabal of corporate oil and war profiteers and to develop an eco-friendly and sustainable energy policy.
For 60 years we have become increasingly dependent on Middle-Eastern oil as our demands soar far beyond our own supplies in the United States. While advocating energy conservation, President Jimmy Carter openly declared U.S. policy in his 1980 State of the Union Address: "An attempt by any outside force to gain control of the Persian Gulf region will be regarded as an assault on the vital interests of the United States of America, and such an assault will be repelled by any means necessary, including military force." Amazingly, this pronouncement was partly directed at Iran, formerly known as Persia, which borders on the oil-rich Persian Gulf. At the time, 52 Americans were being held hostage in the U.S. embassy in Tehran, Iran. The political power of the energy industry in the U.S. is immense and enduring at every level. In 1973, I was Director of a non-profit that formed a coalition of consumer groups to work for reasonable rates and better regulation of monopoly franchised utilities We intervened in electric rate hike hearings and were able to generate attention from local media and even the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal regarding the utilitiesí fix on the regulatory system. The utilities paid large retainer fees to powerful senior members of the Legislature. These lawyer-legislators saw to it that utility-friendly appointees were put on the regulatory commission who would approve the construction of expensive nuclear plants and rubber stamp rate hike requests.
The top stock holders of the South Carolina Electric and Gas Company in the mid-seventies were the largest banks in New York, including Chase Manhattan, which was chaired by David Rockefeller, the grandson of John D. Rockefeller, who established the Standard Oil Company. Such banks owned what amounted to control of ownership of the local power company. It appeared that a giant energy cartel benefited across the board from high energy prices.
Every crisis we have had in the Middle East in recent years has driven up energy prices and revenues of the war/oil profiteers. In the late seventies when the Iran hostage situation was the crisis, gasoline prices sky-rocketed and went over $1.00 a gallon for the first time.
To relieve the tension of gasoline lines and dollar gas, a couple of disc jockey/talk show hosts and I collaborated on a record release--- "Dollar Gas, Kiss My Trash." The Windham Brothers and I wrote and sang the political parody to protest the fix on oil prices to the tune of "Ahab the Arab, King of the Burning Sand." "Dollar Gas" blamed the energy crisis on the big oil companies rather than just on "olí Ahab". We cut a record and took it to Nashville to secure a major record label after it became popular locally. We were told by the record company folks that though they it could become a big novelty hit, they couldnít release it because the source of plastic for their records was petroleum from big energy corporations.
Philip Cooney, chief of staff of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, recently resigned after deleting climate change warnings from a draft report by the US Climate Change Science Program. With oil man George W. Bush as President and the former CEO of oil and military service giant Halliburton as Vice-President, the administration is adamantly opposed to the Kyoto Accords which set goals for reducing CO2 in the atmosphere.
Exxon/Mobil, the largest oil company in the world and also a major foe of (the)Kyoto announced that Mr.. Cooney will go to work for them. Exxon/Mobil is experiencing exceptionally high profits from the war crisis in the Middle East. Interestingly, Exxon/Mobil is the re-uniting of the Standard Oil Company of New Jersey with the Standard Oil Company of New York which were major segments of John D. Rockefellerís oil trust dynasty, publicly "busted " 100 years ago
The entrenched political power of the energy/military complex deters research and development of clean, renewable energy resources like wind, water, the sun and biomass which are eco-friendly and economically sustainable. Supplies of fossil fuels are peaking, global population and consumption of CO2 producing hydrocarbons is rapidly expanding, causing warming and extreme climate changes.
Gasoline prices have risen more than 40% in 2 years, and gasoline demand is up 3% from a year ago as our oil addicted nation pays for another round of war induced price gouging. Energy investment analysts predict $3.00 gas next year.
The pending energy bill should facilitate renewable energy with research and development incentives and subsidies long given to fossil fuel and nuclear energy producers; strengthen motor vehicle fuel economy standards; offer rebates to purchasers of hybrid autos; and mandate U.S. compliance with Kyoto.
Letís declare our independence from domination of Middle-Eastern oil and work for a sustainable energy policy.
Tom Turnipseed is an attorney, writer and peace activist in Columbia, South Carolina. www.turnipseed.net