Thursday, January 11, 2007

Big Oil Gets Surge to Continue Illegal, Immoral War

Of course, at the moment, the "security situation" – i.e., the living hell of death and suffering that Bush's "war of choice" has wrought in Iraq – prevents the Oil Barons from setting up shop in the looted fields. Hence Bush's overwhelming urge to "surge" despite the fierce opposition to his plans from Congress, the Pentagon and some members of his own party. Bush and his inner circle, including his chief adviser, old oilman Dick Cheney, believe that a bigger dose of blood and iron in Iraq will produce a sufficient level of stability to allow the oil majors to cash in the PSA chips that more than 3,000 American soldiers have purchased for them with their lives.
The American "surge" will be blended into the new draconian effort announced over the weekend by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki: an all-out war by the government's Shiite militia-riddled "security forces" on Sunni enclaves in Baghdad, as the Washington Post reports. American troops will "support" the "pacification effort" with what Maliki says calls "house-to-house" sweeps of Sunni areas. There is of course another phrase for this kind of operation: "ethnic cleansing."
Refineries’ big role in oil company profits.

The hurricanes knocked a sizeable chunk of the nation’s oil refineries and natural gas facilities out of service, and much attention has been focused on the impact on prices. But Kemnitz was particularly outraged over a report that on Sept. 1, as Katrina was pounding the Gulf Coast, oil refinery profits hit record highs. The Denver Post editorialized, “The increase in refining [profit] margins that day was 434 percent over the same day a year earlier. Those numbers smack of avarice.”The refineries are the biggest source of price gouging, Slocum said. But the refinery industry is directly owned or indirectly controlled by the same handful of oil corporations who control every phase of the oil and gas industry.The oil giants like ExxonMobil have their “downstream” sector — refining and distribution, and their “upstream” sector — exploration and production, Steelworkers union spokesperson Lynne Baker explained. “ExxonMobil basically sells oil to itself.” Each sector boosts the price and takes in profits. The sectors have separate executives, “but they both report to the same CEO.” It’s not a conspiracy, she said, it’s just the way the system works. In addition, she noted, Wall Street speculators “trade up” oil prices. “Everybody’s part of the food chain.” comes out of the former Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers, which later became PACE. The Steelworkers, following a merger with PACE earlier this year, now represent 30,000 oil workers. Dave Campbell is a 31-year refinery worker. For the last 10, he has been on leave as secretary-treasurer of USW Local 675. He’s also a vice president of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor. “There is no doubt, from internal company documents,” the oil companies’ strategy Baker “starting I would say in the 1980s, has been to decrease refinery capacity,” including closing or forcing out many small refineries," Campbell said. From the workers’ point of view, the companies’ strategy amounts to pushing more productivity out of fewer refineries, and less maintenance," he said.

“Public policy should be revamped to emphasize things like mass transit and better urban planning,” said Campbell. Workers face the brunt of dirty industries in their communities and on the job, he noted. “We would like to make what we call a just transition, from dirty, polluting industries to clean industries.”

“We need a national energy policy,” he said.The Steelworkers have joined with environmental groups in the Apollo Alliance. It has issued a 10-point program based on the “imperatives” of “staunching the hemorrhaging of manufacturing jobs,” “moving to diverse, sustainable and renewable energy sources” and “reconstructing our communities for the benefit of all.”A host of environmental, rural, consumer, public transportation and other advocacy groups are saying it’s time to challenge the rule of big oil. Solutions being proposed include:Windfall profits tax. In addition to Dorgan’s windfall profits bill, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) has a bill, the Gas Price Spike Act, that would tax windfall profits and promote public mass transit initiatives.Investigate oil and gas pricing and profits. It has to be an independent investigation and has to go back further than Katrina, Steelworker spokesperson Baker emphasizes. “It’s not just the hurricane.”

Public ownership and control of energy resources, production and distribution. Produce energy to meet people’s needs and protect the environment. Use the revenue to benefit the people, as Venezuela is doing today. None of this will happen without a mass grassroots movement, of course, and any such measures will have trouble getting far with the current makeup of Congress. Rep. Sherrod Brown, a progressive Democrat from Ohio, told the Washington Post, “In this Congress, if it’s an issue that the oil companies don’t like, it’s defeated.”It underscores the importance of the 2006 congressional elections in the battle to put people before oil company profits.

Indeed, the world will see if the USA is a democracy or just another oil republic run by another tin pot dictator from Texas, from a family of known war criminals.


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