Dang Big Oil, Dang You Too

By Beacon Staff

Well, this week I set ANOTHER record gassing up my weapons carrier. Dang, that hurts!

Yet there are some who think paying five bucks or more a gallon is a good idea. I think they’re nuts.

America is an energy economy. Remember the geezer in the post-Apocalypse epic Soylent Green, pedaling his generator to power the fridge and a couple of light bulbs? Got the picture, thankyouverymutch.

America is America because we’ve traded energy for hard physical labor. Instead of digging a ditch with 100 starving barefoot laborers with baskets and shovels, we use dead dinosaurs to fuel a nice Cat excavator run by one well-paid guy in steel-toed boots.

Trouble is, doing so frees up the other 99 to goof off, with at least 10 doing nothing but filing lawsuits to stop the ditch.

Nationally-syndicated fiscal columnist Robert J. Samuelson notes in 2002, “oil was $25 a barrel; now it’s $135. Corn was $2.30 a bushel; now it exceeds $7. Copper was 70 cents a pound; now it’s $3.80.”

Samuelson further notes that America’s free ride of cheap imports is petering out. Why? The dollar is in the toilet and shipping costs are in orbit. If our dollar was still par the Euro, instead of $135 a barrel, the price would be $62, painful but ugly.

Here’s uglier: On June 24, Associated Press reporter James Prichard wrote that Dow Chemical has raised its prices 25 percent for its products, the second time in less than a month after it raised prices 20 percent. The reason? “[S]ustained record costs for energy and the soaring price of raw materials.”

So you’re “organic” and don’t care? Well, as Prichard explained, when “Dow raises its prices, it is felt across dozens of industries that manufacture everything from diapers to automobiles.”

Furthermore, let’s remember that a main feedstock of chemicals is natural gas, the same stuff we heat our homes with. Last winter, natural gas was $9 to $10 a dekatherm in the Montana market, with a typical gas-heated home using 15 to 20 dekatherms a month in winter. Right now, during summer, the market price is around $15. Maybe I should invest in cardigan-sweater futures?

Anyone who thinks this is Big Oil’s fault needs to oil their brain. It turns out that 94 percent of global oil reserves are owned by governments, many not America-friendly. Citgo, for example, is Venezuelan socialist tinpot Hugo Chavez’s political toy. Petrobras, Brazil: Government. Pemex, Mexico: Government.

Even in Canada and the United States, access to most petroleum is LEASED by government to “Big Oil” and “little oil” on a competitive bid basis. And guess what? The DECISION to lease oil (or coal, or uranium) rights is a government decision, and therefore P-O-L-I-T-I-C-A-L.

Speaking of political, the U.S. House Natural Resources Committee, chaired by that esteemed intellectual Nick Joe Rahall (D-West by God Virginia) just blocked federal uranium claims in Arizona for three years. The vote was 20-2, because the Republicans walked out in protest. Good for them.

Right here in good old Montana, with natural gas prices set to zoom, what just happened? Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation yanked four lease tracts (800 or so acres in Teton County) from a lease auction after Fish, Wildlife and Parks objected.

And don’t get me started on the North Slope. Jumping Jehosaphat!

Even when it comes to “alternative” energy, kooky politics drive policy. Rich yachties on Nantucket Sound are fighting an offshore wind project fang and claw, while right here in Montana the usual suspects sued to block a wind farm near Glasgow, lathering that the fans might be visible from the Bitter Creek “roadless area” viewshed.
Big Oil’s fault, hah?

Our political leaders got us into this morass. Our only way out is if we elect people with the brains and backbone to create and implement a rational, non-ideological energy policy which opens up all the options we would have, were it not for cheesy politics.

But noooooo. Our collective fanny is about to be kicked so hard, we’ll be wiping between our shoulder blades. Whose fault is that gonna be?

Not mine.

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