Its target is new oil leases of the Florida Gulf Coast and the western continental shelf running under the ocean from San Diego to Vancouver. The tactical objective is the removal of environmental restrictions barring new exploration and production in U.S. coastal waters. In what can only be considered a coordinated assault on these regulations, John McCain and President Bush both pitched for a “new energy policy” focused on developing American oil production by new drilling leases, most particularly in the western Gulf of Mexico, where in what appears now to have been a precursor move, the vast military target range off the Jacksonville coast was opened to public use after half a century of closure. The alacrity with which the oil corporations began to bid for new leases speaks eloquently to preplanning.
This whole campaign is based on the assumption that domestic oil production will, somehow, reduce the price of crude on the world market and thereby the soaring price of gasoline in our car-driven economy and culture. Republicans accuse Democrats of creating our dependence of foreign oil from the “rag head Middle East” despite the fact that something north of 70 percent of our foreign purchases are from Mexico and Canada.
In truth it is the trend among oil-producing nations to nationalize their oil and market directly instead of submitting to the oil oligarchy that takes huge profits from its oil and pay pennies for the people of the countries. Venezuela led the way in South America, with Bolivia and Ecuador following close suit, and the Colombian leases are under attack by FARC forces, reducing production drastically. In Africa, Nigerian locals are making life difficult for the oil workers, kidnapping and sabotaging throughout the delta oil fields and threatening the central government.
Faced with these international problems the oil corporations suddenly discover oil here at home, where capped wells on the farms of little old ladies in Oklahoma and Kansas can be brought on line at royalty rates set in the late ‘30s. Slant drilling to drain new deposits, a technology particularly suited for off-shore development, can be used on existing permits and leases without environmental controls, if they can get the Bush administration to gut the coastal drilling ban.
All of which begs the question of how increased domestic production will reduce world oil prices, what with India and China leading the developing nations into energy dependent industrialization.
Why would Exxon/Mobil sell American consumers its product at any lesser price than it can get from global custom? If the United States produces only 3 percent of the world’s crude, what effect would increased domestic pumping make, even if we even doubled our output? Might as well pee in the Pacific. No matter where they drill or whose national resources they rip off, it’s still the same oil gangsters, from Houston in Washington, who make the money.
“Travus T. Hipp” is a 40-year veteran radio commentator with six stations in California carrying his daily version of the news and opinions. “The Poor Hippy’s Paul Harvey,” Travus is a member of the Nevada Broadcasters Hall of Fame, but unemployable in the Silver State due to his eclectic political views.