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E-M:/ The Cost of Oil

Enviro-Mich message from David Holtz <dholtz@cleanwater.org>

A retired school teacher in nothern Macomb County, Richard Lorey, crafted this opinion column on energy for a local paper, The Voice, this week:. A well-written piece from Michigan's heartland:

A huge Hummer carrying a single person down I-94 flew past me recently, its back door emblazoned with large American flags and patriotic ribbons. The irony is that the more gas we burn the less secure we are.

There is only so much oil under the United States. Oil production in the U.S. peaked in 1970, so we pump less of what we use every year. Even if they drill in the fragile Arctic National Wildlife Refuge it would only supply 4% of our needs for a while, an amount easily exceeded by better conservation. The plain truth is, no matter what we do in the United States, most of our oil will be imported.

There is only so much oil in the world too, and the peak of worldwide oil production will occur in the next decade or so. After that, supplies will decline worldwide. Wouldn’t the prudent course of action be conservation and a search for alternative energy? After all, burning of fossil fuel is also the main cause of global warming and air pollution.

So why are we are concentrating on pumping more and blowing off any effort toward conservation? Perhaps it is because our current energy policy was written by the same energy industries that make their profit from oil consumption. I believe we now have the first Secretary of State with an oil tanker named after her. (see note below)

When we purchase oil from other countries those dollars fuel _their_ economies, providing jobs and economic growth over there, not here. Almost a third of our balance of trade deficit is used to buy crude oil. That is money that we send to other countries that is not used to buy stuff that provides jobs here. That money has been drained from our economy.

Since the Middle East is so politically unstable, we have to maintain a considerable military force there just to guarantee our access to its oil. Even before the Iraq war, we were spending $50 billion per year on our forces in the region. If you add the military cost to the oil, you essentially have a taxpayer subsidy of about $60 per barrel! If you were to assume that even part of the reason we invaded Iraq was because of its oil, the taxpayer subsidy of oil is much, much higher.

The intolerant Wahhabi variation of Islam that is dominant in Saudi Arabia is gaining influence worldwide thanks to abundant funding from oil money. Their schools justify armed jihad to the young. The Saudis already own six or seven percent of our country because of oil profits they have invested back here. Should they decide to pull that out, it would be devastating to our economy. Will that be our next wake-up call? Money is power, and we are empowering some frightening people with our oil money.

So when you see a gas-guzzling Hummer on the road, imagine it carrying the flag of your favorite Persian Gulf country and a bumper sticker that says: SUPPORT A TERRORIST, DRIVE A HUMMER.

©2005 Richard Lorey


note:  Chevron named an oil tanker /Condoleezza Rice/ after her but later quietly renamed it /Altair Voyager/.
Rice explained on Fox News Sunday that Chevron had a policy of naming
tankers after its Directors. Rice was a Director of Chevron from 1991
to 2001. "We made the change to eliminate the unnecessary attention
caused by the vessel's original name," Chevron's spokesman, Fred
Gorell, told the /San Francisco Chronicle/. <http://www.publicintegrity.org/dtaweb/downloads/June2001newsletter.pdf>
David Holtz
Michigan Director
Clean Water Action
Clean Water Fund
517-203-0754 East Lansing
313-300-4454 cell

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