Setting the Record Straight

August 4, 2008

The Big Energy Crisis Lie

One Last Scam for the Sleazy GDB Era

     One of the most sordid 14-year periods in U.S. history is about to come to an end, but not without one last scam about to be perpetrated on the American people.
     The Gingrich-Delay-Bush era that began in 1995 is not ending before its members try to line the pockets of their friends in the oil industry, and probably eventually themselves, describing their cause as independence from foreign oil and lower gas and heating oil prices. This is as big a lie as those told to get us into the Iraq fiasco.
     Newt Gingrich and Tom Delay resigned from Congress under scandal clouds, but George W. Bush remained untouched because Democrats would not undertake impeachment proceedings. And now Gingrich is trying to get his finger back in the political pie once again.
     The scandal now swirling around the arrogant and hateful Sen. Ted Stevens is not just a coincidence. As with most other sordid deeds of the GDB era, this one is connected to the oil industry and personal greed.
     The earlier GOP lobbying scandal centered around some of the most cynical people ever to operate in the nation’s capital–Jack Abramoff, Grover Norquist and Ralph Reed–was tied directly to the GDB crowd and their Republican friends state and federal politics. They sweet-talked clients and then took their money to fund special interests, provide bribes and basically buying elections unrelated to their clients’ interests.
     Not content with leaving town with their tails between their legs, the GDB crowd, this time aided by Republican presidential candidate John McCain, is trying to convince the American people they can ease the energy crisis by opening more federal land to drilling by the U.S. oil companies.
     Democratic opponents of the proposal note it would take 10 years for any oil from newly opened sites to reach the consumer. That argument is irrelevant. Opponents should be noting that in reality, it would more likely be their children who would see the first benefits, assuming there would still be benefits to anyone other than the oil industry in more oil pro- duction.
     The American oil industry is the father figure to those who participated in the Enron scandal. What those in Enron did, the oil industry has been doing for years and apparently plans to continue doing—manipulating supply and demand and bamboozling the public.
     The industry’s plea for lifting a moratorium on leasing federal land for oil and coal mining so more resources are available to the industry has nothing to do with the present. It is part of a long-term strategy to ensure more oil resources will be available to the industry in the future, the future as in decades from now.
     For some reason, the truth is not being absorbed by the American people. Even some Senate Democrats appear not to be absorbing the truth, for they have offered a compromise that would open some additional land. And Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has naively endorsed that compromise.
     That truth is the oil industry already has access to enough oil on federal land to double its current production of about 4.8 million barrels of oil a day. But the industry is not taking advantage of that access in the form of leases.
     During the past four years alone, the government has issued 28,776 permits for companies to drill on public land, but only 18,954 were used. That leaves unused about 10,000 permits, a third of those available, while the oil industry pleads that it needs more and more public land opened while gasoline prices remain at price-gouging levels and home heating oil is about to skyrocket to fatality-causing levels.
     It is no coincidence the major domestic oil companies such as Exxon Mobil and Chevron reported record net income during the April-June period. And there is no coincidence within a coincidence that those same companies would have seen greater profits if their refining and production sectors had not lagged. They lagged because the industry did not choose to use the refining and production resources it already has to put more gas on the market.
     Hmmm. Could the weak refining and production parts of their busi- nesses and the inactive leases they hold for drilling on public land have anything to do with keeping the supply tight and prices in the $4 per gallon neighborhood?
     Foreign oil producers see the same scam and that is why they have declined to increase their own production. That’s right; foreign oil com- panies know what is going on while the American public remains ignorant.
     Much of the GDB crowd will be out the government after this year. Keep an eye on where they end up in the private sector.




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