Remember when George Bush went on national television to tell us that we were hopelessly addicted to oil and he was going to do something about it? He did. He started an illegal and immoral war in Iraq for oil so that we can continue to feed the addiction. As the war rages on and people die on a daily basis, Exxon-Mobil, Shell, Total, BP and Chevron (along with a host of smaller U.S. companies) are in the final stages of negotiating a no-bid contract with the Iraq Oil Ministry to service Iraq’s largest oil fields. American companies will be back in Iraq after losing their contracts 36 years ago to nationalization of Iraq’s oil industry under Saddam Hussein. Does anybody really still believe that we invaded Iraq to liberate the Iraqi people?
Of course, this little fact of the war has gone unreported in the mainstream media. That’s pretty much par for the course these days. Also unreported is the fact that no-bid contracts are very rare in this industry. In this case, the United States has managed to squeeze out of contention offers made by more than 40 other companies including those in Russia, China and India. While these contracts are small at the outset, it gives the participating companies a foothold in the development of new fields, which will provide longer-term deals and lucrative profits. Put all of the little pieces together and the reason we are in Iraq becomes very clear.
George Bush is so intent on feeding the addiction that he is calling for the lifting of a 27-year moratorium on offshore oil drilling to help make us less dependent on foreign oil. He wants us to be energy independent. His mirror image, John McCain, believes that lifting the ban “would be very helpful in the short term in resolving our energy crisis.” That’s funny because Bush’s own Energy Information Administration has stated that there will be no effect on U.S. production or prices until at least 2030. That’s 22 years from now. The real kick is that the U.S. offshore oil amounts are so small that it wouldn’t have any effect on prices anyway. * The U.S. controls less than 3% of the global oil and gas deposits, but accounts for 25% of the global oil consumption.
‘Alternative’ energy sources
Both talk about ‘alternative’ energy sources. If wind and solar immediately come to mind, think again. For Bush and McCain, ‘alternative’ means nuclear and coal. The present crisis has created a call by our fearless leader and his water boy for a renewed commitment to nuclear energy. George Bush called for this back in 2006 and it will comfort Americans to no end that John McCain envisions a nuclear future. McCain is calling for a ‘crash’ program to construct 45 new reactors by 2030. Of course, neither Bush nor McCain mentioned that the entire country gets only 20% of its electricity today from 104 operating nuke plants across the country. They also failed to mention that many of these plants are nearing the end of their licensing period. Sound like a solution to you?
Then there’s the little matter of safely dumping nuclear waste. In a major policy speech, McCain never talked about this aspect of nuclear power. Bush, however, has proposed that we ship thousands of tons of nuclear waste across the country to the still-to-be-built nuclear storage facility in Yucca Mountain, Nevada. This deadly cargo would pass through as many as 44 states. As it passes thorough the District of Columbia, it would pass within half a mile of 50 million people. **
By the way, industry experts point out that construction on new nuclear plants could not begin for at least five years because of the requirements necessary to ensure safety. This would involve a complex licensing process, emergency response planning, operator training and radiation protection. There is also the little matter of coming up with a $5 to $10 billion dollar investment per facility.
While the Bush administration has stopped talking about the so-called ‘clean’ coal project McCain, in the same policy speech he made on nuclear technology, has committed to providing $2 billion per year to support clean coal technology. While it is America’s most abundant resource, burning coal is also a major contributor to global warming.
Indulging in outright deception
McCain’s new energy ad blatantly seeks to deceive the American people. The ad claims that McCain has bucked his own party when it comes to supporting action on climate change. That much about the ad is true. However, the images shown in the ad are of windmills and solar panels. The fact is that McCain does not support subsidies for either of these technologies. He does, on the other hand, support subsidies for nuclear power facilities. No nuclear facilities are shown in the ad, perhaps because he understands the emotional response this topic inspires given the memories of Three Mile Island here in America and Chernobyl in Russia. Nevertheless, the ad is deceptive and should be pulled immediately. Apparently, the Republicans believe that the ends justify the means and it is acceptable to lie to the American people.
Throwing billions against the wall and hoping something sticks
The plan advanced by our present imperial president and his potential successor amounts to throwing billions against the wall in the hope that something will stick. It will take billions of dollars to open up offshore drilling. It will take billions to revitalize the nuclear industry. It will take billions to develop ‘clean’ coal technology (another of those oxymorons). The American people would be better served if all of this money was invested in true ‘alternative’ energy sources, like wind and solar, rather than being spent on the same old technologies that have gotten us into this mess to begin with. Once the technical obstacles are overcome, the energy source is clean and doesn’t require disposing of waste. While we may never be completely free of the need for oil, at least we may be able to bring our need down to manageable levels.