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05
Mon, Dec

Lies the Oil Industry Sold Our Leaders

ACCORDING TO LIZ - The soul of America has been lost in a government awash in dark money with armies of lobbyists to spread it around. 

One would think that with the upside falling and the downside rising, investors would think twice before throwing money at projects unlikely to yield an attractive profit, especially if one factors in ongoing opposition, political turmoil and the threat of lawsuits. 

More drilling has absolutely no connection to the price at the pump,  but is a great leveraging point for oil and gas companies to demand greater leeway to further explore and exploit, thus guaranteeing the United States will be burning fossil fuels far into the future. 

The rise in energy prices in the past year due to the surprisingly swift economic recovery following the pandemic’s peak was primarily the result of an industry unprepared in the midst of their eternal price manipulation. 

For them, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was not a humanitarian crisis but a glorious opportunity for profit escalation. 

Industry executives persist in espousing lie after lie to justify not only their obscene profits but also the need to increase the costs for consumers. 

Meanwhile these corporations expend those profits on stock buybacks enhancing the individual wealth of stockholders and, especially, their executives. 

Head of the American Petroleum Institute, Mike Sommers, falsely blamed the Biden administration’s denial of a permit for the Keystone XL pipeline for rising domestic prices even though the pipeline’s primary purpose was to export oil products. And make more money for the Oil Cos. 

By cloaking a profit-enhancing approach with the misleading moniker of “Net Zero,” fossil fuel companies are feloniously promoting themselves as part of the climate solution, and much of their current PR literature flaunts purported social justice imagery and digital innovations. 

How many of the minorities featured in these materials actually work in C-suites as opposed to in oilfields and how many of their innovations benefit people rather than shareholders is the new $64 thousand question. 

The focus of their campaigns and actions are solely dedicated to delaying the inevitable, to encouraging further exploitation and burning of fossil fuels for as long as humanly possible. 

For the humans whose homes were wiped out by Hurricane Ian, for those in California displaced by wildfires, for Europeans shivering in anticipation of a frigid winter without fuel, the fat cat monopolists of Big Oil are even more immoral than the robber barons of the late 1800s. 

To satisfy Manchin and his fossil fuel backers, the compromised Inflation Reduction Act included carbon capture and sequestering along with loosening of regulations for pipeline construction, environmental oversight, drilling and the issuance of new oil leases. 

The worst of these were pushed into his Permitting Reform Bill, ghost-written by Big Oil, which was deferred from being locked into the recently passed Continuing Appropriations and Ukraine Supplemental Appropriations Act. 

But its proponents will forcefully pursue its passage in the near future. 

Carbon credits, carbon capture, and carbon-sequestering are a farce developed by the fossil fuel industry’s version of “Project Whitecoat” (the PR spin team created by Big Tobacco almost 70 years ago, staffed by well-paid scientists willing to tell the public tobacco-causing cancer was a non-issue) established after Exxon scientist Marty Hoffert’s 1981 computer model demonstrated that, if the world continued to burn fossil fuels at the then-current rate, Planet Earth was heading for a climate disaster. 

Big Oil lies, spoon-fed to pet Senators, Representatives and judges over the decades, have increased consumption exponentially. 

Capturing carbon dioxide and transporting it for storage or use can cost $600 a ton. It would have to drop below $50 a ton to even be considered economically feasible. The only current use is as a fracking assist. And to try and pull the wool over the public’s eyes to permit OilCos to go on making their millions while bringing the world ever closer to the tipping point. 

Fossil fuels emit over 30 billion tons of carbon a year, but Exxon now brags that ten years after it was determined that the world needed to reduce carbon emissions by 56%, they will have captured a total of… 0.3%. 

Oh, wow… I’m so impressed. 

Constructing the 65,000 miles of carbon dioxide pipelines to actually achieve net-zero emissions by 2050 would be impossible given existing dangers and growing litigation by the escalating numbers of passionate environmental advocates. 

But the real elephant in the room has more to do with Wall Street and esoteric tax provisions. Under the bill, tax credits for capturing carbon dioxide at industrial facilities and power plants would increase from $50 per ton today to up to $85 per ton (if the carbon from industrial facilities and power plants is stored) and $50 to $180 per ton (for capturing it from the air). 

There is even an increased credit for using it to drill for more oil. Talk about Russian roulette. 

For humanity, not Big Oil. 

In the 50 years since scientists first determined climate change was a reality and could have a life-threatening impact on the planet, oil companies have profited by an average of $3 billion a day. They have used that money to bolster their PR lies, to buy politicians and judges, fight compensation settlements in the courts, and overturn regulations at all levels of government. 

Despite all the damages they have caused, the industry has become so powerful as to ride roughshod with impunity over any call to mitigate their behavior. 

No demand for reparations for the damages their rape of the land, their pollution of our air and water that the processing and burning of their products have caused is too small for them to attack, no holds barred. 

If they can’t win outright, they make sure to muddy the waters to the point that it would take an act of God to reverse their power. And there appear to be no gods left on mankind’s side.

We can only keep forcing transparency, calling for accountability, and encouraging and supporting more young activists like Greta Thunberg and Xiuhtezcatl Martinez. 

Citizens of Indonesia and children in India, South Africa, Ecuador, Portugal, the UK and Germany have joined those in Oregon and Washington in demanding their own governments protect their right to a decent future. 

Hearings on the Ambler mining road which would have linked mining projects in northwest Alaska to the Dalton Highway was challenged by environmental groups who opposed the further development of oil and mineral deposits that easier access would encourage. 

They went up against the government and deep-pocket profiteers but public testimony was nearly unanimous in resisting the project. Alaskans took a strong stand and even their pro-businesses right-wing government had to listen. 

Section 50265 of the Inflation Reduction Act mandates that, to permit a solar or wind project on federal lands, they must have previously held an oil-and-gas lease sale. This could require issuing such contracts in Alaska’s environmentally-sensitive Cook Inlet in order to put up a solar plant in Nevada. 

Or that California would have to offer up 60 million acres of offshore oil-and-gas leases before any offshore wind lease could be issued. 

Say what? 

An article in Public Citizen earlier this year told the truth in response to some of Big Oil’s biggest whoppers.

(Liz Amsden is a regular contributor to CityWatch and an activist from Northeast Los Angeles with opinions on much of what goes on in our lives. She has written extensively on the City's budget and services as well as her many other interests and passions. In her real life she works on budgets for film and television where fiction can rarely be as strange as the truth of living in today's world.)