Tag Archives: Big Oil

More than 8 years of blogging and my environmentalist roots

When I first started blogging, technically when I first started it was an email list that became an email newsletter, then a blog, I started because of two specific actions that were occurring in tes country, the widespread rollback of environmental protections, and the unilateral decisions being made in Washington by one party and one president whose first term would be up in about a year.

George W. Bush was president, he had just started what seemed like an unwise second war in the oil rich Middle East, environmental actions removing restrictions were regularly happening with the sign of his pen, and drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Area Refuge (ANWAR) was continually popping up in emails from conservation groups.

So much of what we were doing seemed to be revolving around energy, oil that is, black gold, Texas tea.  The price of gas was approaching $2 a gallon, and instead of doing what previous generations did by investing in Universities and solving problems, many in the country seemed content to delay the problem for further generations by drilling now and using up the dwindling resources rather than daring to consider how to fix the problem.

Never mind that just two decades earlier foreign countries in the Middle East exercised the leverage they had on our economy by restricting oil sales.  An OPEC decision could literally thrust us into the beginning of a deep depression immediately.  Yet we continued to ignore and delay logical changes in how we live, and float in the breeze of an unstable Middle East that doesn’t really seem to like us very much.

I was frustrated and began blogging (or newslettering) about how important it was to replace Bush with Howard Dean, Wes Clark, John Edwards, John Kerry or whoever.  I was literally an ABB person – Anybody But Bush. And as we approached the 2004 election, blogging became mainstream and a logical place to write.  Sites popped up that made it easy to blog.  I used one site for about a 2 years, I don’t remember what it was, maybe Homestead, then Blogger for many years before the current incarnation in WordPress.  And what happened over those years is that I increasingly ignored the environmentalist base and core of what is important to me, my three boys and any grandchildren I might eventually have, in favor of partisan political blogging activism.

Today I am entrenched in partisan activity — in my blog, volunteering for the DFL, and in the candidates I support.  And where has that gotten me?

A friend from church recently said about the current state of politics:

“No respect, no creativity, nothing constructive, nothing positive. I just struggle to engage in a process that has become so divisive and so destructive.”

I used to think that that was exactly why we should be involved, to change that.  Now I am beginning to think that it won’t change and I have better things to do with my time.  I know one blogger who has already done that.

Anyway, I found some of those old blogs and thought maybe I need to return to my roots.  After all, I have been an environmentalist since I was a little kid.  When I was in elementary school, I was very interested in saving whales.  I think I was in 5th grade when a librarian at Fulton Elementary in Minneapolis, who knew of my interest in whales, gave me a pamphlet that had a picture of a cute baby harp seal on the front of it.  When I opened it up, it was graphic pictures of seal hunters with clubs, bloody baby seals, and pools of blood on the rocks.

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What should we do about gas prices?

How do we solve the current problem of high gas prices?  Who solves the problem of high gas prices?  Are taxes a part of the problem?  Is the President to blame?

Several years ago, 1999 or 2000, when gas prices were topping $1.60 a gallon, then presidential candidate, Texas Governor George Bush said the president “must jawbone OPEC members into lowering prices.”

How’d that work out?

Admittedly, I criticized President Bush on that statement, and the resulting huge increase in gas prices ($4 per gallon) that curiously increased between elections, and dropped at election time.  So is the President to blame?  Was George Bush to blame?  Is Barack Obama to blame now?  George Bush deserved criticism for his statements and lack of knowledge about gas prices, if you recall, he didn’t even know the price of gas was almost $4 a gallon when a reporter asked him about it at one point during his presidency, but the president wasn’t and isn’t specifically to blame per se.

I’m sure I could find blame, and I guess if we had another president like Teddy Roosevelt who took on corporate crooks, the president could be a solution, but the problem is Wall Street investors buying oil futures as a short-term investment, not the president. 

Can you name one product that drives our economy as much as the cost of gas?  Not only do prices of products rise with the price of gas, but if I spend $40 more dollars on gas each month, with profits going to a foreign company, that is $40 less I am spending at local businesses that create jobs.  That means I’m not buying a pizza at Casa Nostra in Lakeville or taking my wife on a date to go see a movie at the Lakeville Movie Theater.  It means I’m not buying as much fresh locally grown produce at the grocery store, or splurging on a steak at Kowalski’s.  It means I wear my shoes longer and let me hair grow out a little more between cuts.  

Should a resource that dictates the economic success or failure of small businesses, and our country in general, as much as oil and gas do, really be an item that makes Wall Street investors rich?  When Wall Street traders think oil prices will increase, they bid more, increasing the price of oil.  So as we pay more and more, oil companies, many of them foreign, who have no significant additional costs to produce a barrel of oil, make more and more money.

I guess there are two solutions.  Drilling more won’t work, first it won’t stop speculation, and second we already have a glut of oil.  OPEC is slowing down drilling because they can’t sell it all.  So, we can work to either eliminate the use of oil and gas, or we can begin regulating investment in oil futures to some degree.  I don’t know whether either would work.  I doubt we would see a big decline in gas prices, after all, how often do we see gas prices go down 20 cents in a day like they go up?  It’s business, and it is not likely.  But regulation on oil speculation that limits gambling on oil would at least make our gas prices dependent on supply and demand rather than based on Wall Street profits.  Well, that is until radical governments take over the entire Middle East and cut us off completely…

Way to go Norm Coleman, who needs renewable energy?

This is one of three blog headline Featured on the front page of Norm Coleman’s website

“Norm Coleman: Fighting To End Our Addiction To Foreign Oil”

Of course yesterday, he voted to block the Renewable Energy and Job Creation Act of 2008 in order to protect a tax loophole for hedge fund managers and a tax break for multi-national corporations. That doesn’t sound like he wants to end our addiction to oil.

That bill would have encouraged investment in renewable energy technology, extended the research and development tax credit, and provided middle-class families with some much-needed tax relief.

Way to go Norm!

What do you get when you cross a truck with a hybrid? Not much.

A friend of mine told me to register for the HGTV Dream Home in the Florida Keys. The prize is a 2.2 million dollar home with furnishings and a new GMC Yukon Hybrid. There is no way I could pay the property taxes, let alone the income tax on receiving that home, but I was very intrigued by the GMC Yukon Hybrid.

A hybrid truck! That sounds great! It was until I saw the MPG is 20 city, and 21 highway. That sucks! A regular Yukon gets 14 city, and 21 highway. I realize it is an improvement, and better than nothing, but nobody can tell me that the auto industry is unable to do better.

We have heard all of the statistics that cars actually have worse gas mileage now than they did in the 70s. We’ve heard Exxon made 40 billion dollars last year. It is practically conspiratorial – cars use more gas, oil companies charge more and it cripples the middle and working class.

This lack of innovation could lead to worse things. Wants rather than innovation lead to war. One of Japan’s goals in starting WWII was to acquire natural resources. Sudan’s recent war turned into a war over oil. And the US has been militarily involved in the Middle East for more than a half a century because of oil. We have fought two wars in Iraq, on top of spending trillions of dollars throughout the Middle East to support governments considered “favorable” to us.

Oil Obsolescence is the path to world peace, at least temporarily. I say temporarily because it probably won’t be long before wars over other natural resources, like water, take over.

Without the innovation, we are risking economic security. Since OPEC cut oil production in the 1970s creating the oil crisis what have we done? Nothing!

Politicians only care about now, and risk our health, security and freedoms in the future rather than planning for the future. America is not a corporation. We aren’t stockholders looking for a big dividend. We need long term security, and forward thinkers.

Oily Mark Kennedy

Americans are feeling pain at the pump.

According to a recent CBS News poll, 86 percent of people have been affected by higher gasoline prices “some” or “a lot.”

A recent Associated Press/Ipsos poll showed that 70 percent believe that higher gasoline prices will cause financial hardship for them or their family.

Yet while ordinary Americans suffer under the weight of high gasoline prices, the world’s largest energy conglomerates are enjoying record breaking profits.

According to The Washington Post, the 2004 profits for ExxonMobil, ChevronTexaco, and ConocoPhillips broke records across all industries. In fact, last year, at over $25 billion, ExxonMobil booked the highest profit of any company in any year in history. These record profits have not only more than doubled CEO salaries, but they have driven up political contributions a staggering $450 million in the past six years. So, while consumers are paying at the pump, oil companies are getting billions in tax breaks and sweetheart deals from the Bush administration and their congressional allies.

Mark Kennedy is one of those allies. Kennedy voted against federal environmental standards that threatened big oil, while also taking $45,000 in campaign contributions from the oil and gas industry, including $13,000 from Exxon Mobil.

Why are we as common-sense Minnesotans even considering him as a candidate good for our state and nation?