Thursday, February 23, 2012

$4 Gallon Gasoline - A 2012 Petrogarch Primer

Some Historical Relativity
Lubricated with a Little Crude Oil

Let's introduce this posting with a couple of paragraphs of our traditional  MeanMesa conspiracy rambling. Since the Citizens United decision about a year ago, American oligarchs are effortlessly reaching into their bulging purses to indulge themselves in all sorts of, happily, unpopular personal political vendettas, weird, unfulfilled childhood baggage and a veritable "spring bouquet" of various tragic wet dreams of a "Paladin-esque" ascent to historical relevance and foreign policy glory.

The GOPCon owners have opined about re-invading Iraq to correct mistakes in the distribution of her stolen oil, bombing Iran in the interests of Israel's participation in a modern reinvention of the Revelations myth and delivering the final "stake through the heart" to the dirty, ungrateful remnants of Martin Luther's Papist heresy.  One of the more recent examples is found in the tantrum of Texas refinery billionaires with the President's decision not to hand over the Keystone XL petro-"cash cow" for conversion into "well deserved" profits.

That "billionaires' tantrum" has now materialized.  We see the dust from the petrogarchs' approaching troops on the horizon, and, as usual, they are headed for the gas pump price meters.

Petrogarchs' 2012 Battle Plan
   Destroy the Recovery,  Destroy the Economy  and Destroy Obama

It may be hard to imagine anyone beyond the bullet hungry Generals who is actually looking at the prospect of war with Iran fondly, but keep looking.  There was a minor "tit for tat" between just such folks and the President which revealed other, perhaps even more dangerous, anti-democracy players.

Since it's a "new word," MeanMesa will make the predictable pitch for contextural validity.

Petrogarch (noun, common usage)
(adj.) petrogarchic
(adv.) petrogarchically
  • A particularly vicious, special type of oligarch who has extracted most of his wealth from either non-competitive, price fixed petroleum production and sales, petroleum futures speculation or federal petroleum subsidies.  There are very few reported female petrogarchs.

The "candy on the table" was Presidential approval of the Keystone XL Pipeline Project designed to bring Canadian tar sands oil across the country to refineries in Texas.  This may not sound so terribly arcane, but there are a few facts which must be added for the discussion.

1. This year the largest export commodity from the United States will be refined petroleum products -- specifically gasoline and diesel fuel. (read more)

2. Oil derived from tar sands is perhaps the most caustic and toxic form of crude oil.  (The best form of crude oil is called "sweet, light crude,"  i.e. Saudi Arabian or Iraqi crude oil.) (read more)

3. The Keystone Project would not be a significant jobs producer either during its construction -- 3,000 to 5,000 temporary jobs for 2 years -- or during its operational life -- 2,000 jobs. (read more)

4. The gasoline product refined from the tar sands oil in Texas would not mitigate US dependence on imported oil.  Refinery output is scheduled for direct trans-shipment to Central and South American buyers. (read more)

5.  The main, administrative obstacle cited in the President's refusal to authorize the project is derived from its very questionable, incomplete environmental impact investigation.  Keystone proponents demanded immediate EPA approval.  The proposed route of the pipeline crosses the major Ogallala Aquifer in the US agricultural state of Nebraska. (read more)

6. An average American family pays $600 per year to futures speculators in the oil "market," a tender career opportunity held close and dear by its obscenely rich owners. (read more)

7. The US oil market is not driven by supply and demand, hence its victims never enjoy the now totally mythical prospect of a price reflecting any sort of supply and demand "market correction." Because of this, gasoline prices are largely based on arbitrary decisions made by petrogarchs and speculators for any reason they wish. (read more

8. High gasoline prices can become a political "dog whistle" to uninformed consumers,  "re-grooved" by the petrogarchs' "wholly owned media" to become the responsibility of an incumbent President if that is what is desired. (read more)

So, Let's take a Look at Our Petrogarch Primer

Item One 

from OilChange International

(See the article here )


Big Oil Threatens President Obama

Steve Kretzmann
Jack Gerard, API
American Petroleum Institute President, Jack Gerard

By Brendan Demelle, DeSmogBlog

American Petroleum Institute President Jack Gerard today announced the oil and gas industry’s latest election-year scare campaign to threaten the demise of the U.S. economy unless Big Oil gets its every wish in Washington.

This year the wish list includes approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, expanded offshore drilling on both coasts, opening up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge and more federal lands in the West to drilling, and smaller buffer zones between drilling operations and drinking water supplies.

What if Washington doesn’t comply by delivering Keystone XL and the rest of the wish list? Gerard, the oil industry’s chief bully, threatens “huge political consequences” for Barack Obama.

You can almost set your watch to this industry’s tired plays on this front. If it’s January of a presidential election year, it must be time for the oil industry to threaten Washington politicians to ensure they continue to do the industry’s bidding. The threats are delivered in the form of outlandishly expensive advertising campaigns and punditry tours, aided by a captive media that serves its role as stenographer for the industry’s inflated jobs figures and misleading claims.

The API campaign is nothing more than a fresh skin on a very old and stale argument – that President ______ (insert current name) needs to continue opening up more of the nation’s lands, particularly public lands, for oil and gas drilling, OR ELSE ______(insert latest political talking point), in this case “jobs jobs jobs” will be lost (a bogus argument).

CNN notes the close correlation between API’s target states and some of the hottest states in the 2012 U.S. elections – hint: they’re the same.

Gerard said it is not intended to be an advertisement or promote one party or candidate over the another, but rather a “conversation” to “help Americans understand what’s at stake.”  While the campaign will run nationwide, it will focus heavily on states where Gerard said energy is an important issue — including Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Those states also happen to be important battle ground states in the upcoming election.
In his inanely named “State of American Energy” address, Gerard threatened:

“Clearly, the Keystone XL pipeline is in the national interest. A determination to decide anything less than that I believe will have huge political consequences.”

Like what Mr. Gerard? Your industry isn’t going to lend as much financial support to Democrats this year as it will to Republicans? Surprise, surprise…surprise.

The oil-soaked GOP is doing cartwheels over their supposed ‘victory’ in forcing Obama to decide on Keystone XL within 60 days, although many environmentalists predict the bullying to backfire. But House Republicans won’t let reality stand in the way of a good circus stunt.

The Hill reports:

House Republicans are putting more pressure on President Obama to make a decision on the Keystone XL pipeline, unveiling a [countdown] clock that counts the number of days since the president signed legislation requiring a speedy verdict on the project.

How about putting that clock next to a ticker showing the oil industry money flowing into Congressional campaign coffers? That would be a sight!

Also during his statement today, Jack Gerard asked rhetorically, “Why would we import a product we can produce at home?”

But Jack, why not answer the real question: If Big Oil is sincerely interested in domestic energy security and low-cost gasoline for Americans, why would your industry be clamoring feverishly to maximize U.S. oil and gas export infrastructure that would send our ‘homegrown’ oil and gas overseas to Asian and European markets – raising American gas prices yet higher?

Greenpeace launched its own Vote 4 Energy site mocking the API’s claims that its ads feature “ordinary Americans” and releasing a hilarious spoof video.

“When’s the last time someone got hired to clean up a solar spill?” asks an actor playing an ordinary American in the Greenpeace spoof. “Oh no, I’ve got sunlight all over me.”


Greenpeace said in a statement:

“The Vote 4 Energy campaign is the latest effort by the oil industry to fake citizen support for its agenda. The American Petroleum Institute has repeatedly spent millions to block clean energy solutions and fake grassroots support for Big Oil.”

While API [American Petroleum Institute] says its new ads are designed to feature only “ordinary Americans” expressing their thoughts on energy, in reality the industry’s ad agency carefully handpicks people to read from a script. In other words, it is pure astroturfing.

Recall that API ad producers kicked out several people who wouldn’t agree to read the script provided by API, and instead insisted on expressing their own beliefs, as they had been led to believe they could buy the API ad team’s outreach ad, which stated:

… “the ONLY qualifications” listed on the e-mail: “You are willing to go on camera and state your beliefs.”
Another is: “You are comfortable portraying YOURSELF! They want REAL PEOPLE not Actors!”

API won’t reveal how much money it is spending on the astroturf ad campaigns that will continue throughout this election year.  But it will likely rival or surpass what API spent on its 2010 election year ads – roughly $40 million.

That’s a lot of job-creating money! Too bad it’s going into bullying ads instead of supporting “ordinary Americans” who need work.

Item Two 

from Huffington Post

(see the article here)

American Petroleum Institute

To Begin Direct Political Donations

American Petroleum Institute
The Huffington Post   First Posted: 02/24/11 05:42 PM ET Updated: 05/25/11 07:35 PM ET

One of the biggest oil lobbying organizations now plans to directly back political candidates. 

The American Petroleum Institute (API) -- the main U.S. trade association for the oil and gas industry -- recently announced that beginning in the second quarter of this year, it will take a turn towards direct political donations. API, who has companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron among its 400 members, spent about $7 million last year on lobbying efforts alone.

One of the greatest concerns, as Think Progress reports, is that API runs committees that set oil industry standards. The commission investigating the BP oil spill reported that API was in too compromising a position to set the standards -- the institute resists improving safety rules due to concerns over the costs. API's Martin Durbin admits to Bloomberg News, "At the end of the day, our mission is trying to influence the policy debate."

Now, the institute will take direct aim at political candidates. Most of these candidates are expected to be Republican, as oil-supported action committees tend to support the Republican party. Last year, the Independent Petroleum Association of America gave 77 percent of their contributions to the Republican party. Bloomberg reports that during the 2010 election, oil and gas companies were the 15th largest source of political contributions. Koch Industries Inc. was the largest contributor in the industry, and gave over 90 percent of their money to Republicans. 

Past Huffington Post pieces show that API has previously campaigned against climate legislation, and Greenpeace revealed a memo from API president Jack Gerard suggesting the institute fight climate legislation by defining it as "tax increases on our industry."

API claims greenhouse gas regulations are "burdensome." Meanwhile, 2010 was one of the hottest years on record, an estimated 50 million people will be environmental refugees in under 10 years, and reports pile on of the health hazards surrounding Big Oil practices.

The Obama Administration has questioned the entire lobbying industry. In the 2012 budget, the administration proposed removing the billions of dollars that taxpayers pay in subsidies to oil companies each year. The administration estimates that in a decade, this repeal would yield $46 billion. Until action is taken though, Big Oil will continue to tighten the strings that influence the policies affecting its corporate interests. 

Item Three

from Reuters

(See the article  here)

Obama faces political heat

 if Keystone rejected: API

WASHINGTON | Wed Jan 4, 2012 4:26pm EST
(Reuters) - The head of the top oil and gas lobbying group said on Wednesday that the Obama administration will face serious political consequences if it rejects a Canada-to-Texas oil sands pipeline that has been opposed by environmental groups.

Jack Gerard, president of the American Petroleum Institute, said TransCanada's Keystone XL pipeline would definitely play a role in this year's national elections.

"This issue is very simple and straightforward, it's about jobs and national security," Gerard told reporters after giving a speech on the state of U.S. energy.

"Anything less than approval or acquiescence in allowing the pipeline to go forward would be inconsistent with the vast majority of Americans," Gerard said.

The oil and gas industry says the country needs the 1,700-mile Keystone XL pipeline, which would transport 700,000 barrels per day or more of Canadian oil sands crude to U.S. Gulf coast refineries.

But the decision on the pipeline is a difficult one for President Barack Obama. Approval would upset environmentalists, an important part of his voter base, while axing the project would upset some labor unions, another part of his base.

With environmental groups concerned about carbon emissions from oil sands production, the administration had delayed a decision on a presidential permit for the project until 2013.

The administration says it needs more time to consider alternative routes for the pipeline, which originally was planned to traverse sensitive habitats and a crucial water source in Nebraska.

Lawmakers that support the project were able to attach a measure to a tax-cut law passed at the end of last year that requires the president to decide whether the project is in the national interest by late February.

API is launching an advertising campaign aimed at getting Americans to consider candidates' stances on energy issues, including the Keystone project, before they cast their ballots in November.

While Gerard stressed that the advertising campaign is non-partisan, API has been a vocal critic of the Obama administration's energy policies.

In addition to the Keystone delays, the group has blasted the administration for not opening up more areas to offshore drilling and for its push to eliminate certain tax breaks for the oil and gas industry.

Republicans in Congress have also forcefully objected to the administration's delay of the Keystone pipeline, accusing the White House of placing politics over job creation.

Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce committee have placed a clock on their website counting the days until the administration must weigh in on the project.

"After waiting more than three years for this pipeline while the country faces prolonged unemployment, the American people are fed up with the president's inaction on a project that can quickly create jobs," Fred Upton, chairman of the Energy and Commerce committee, said in a statement.

Playmates and Playpens
Both In the Sand Box AND the Girl Chained Up in the Basement 

We may understand the "source" of Governor Perry's plan to re-invade Iraq, Senator Santorum's plan to outlaw birth control and Mitt Romney's plan to make corporate hamburger from every company that can't fight back. We have to assume that these ridiculous gambits are the all part of the risky price which must be paid to woo the crazy Republican base if one wishes to survive the grisly GOPCon Primary jousts.

The confusing difficulties arise from the "half bred" nature of the audience.  One parent is the traditionally crooked Republican elites who have no motives other than more looting.  The other parent is the carefully confounded tea bags who are still dancing to the hypnotic tune of Freedom Werken months after the owners ordered that outfit to pack up their hot wings, cowboy boots, banjos and fiddles and go home.

The problem faced by the party proper is that all these "mixed heritage" children have their own pistols, and they don't like each other.

However, in the case of the petrogarchs, the story is both more clear and more chilling.  They cannot countenance the possibility that they won't be obediently handed their latest scam on a platter, and they plan to obliterate the "uppity" President who steadfastly remained loyal to his constituent supporters -- us.  These boys are the ones who REALLY consider themselves to be the masters of the universe.

Their scheme is weak.  The big bet made by the petrogarchs was that an uninformed electorate would instantly repeat the dive into their hackneyed old song of "Drill Baby, Drill," but the crowd for the "big plunge into eel lake" this time has proved to be far less than the "lemming-like unanimity" they have enjoyed previously.

This doesn't mean that they will give up, either.  This just means that they will try harder.  Plus, they have now "joined forces" with Karl Rove, the fascist servant of the autocrat Bush.  They can pump oil drenched petrogarch cash into the recipe where ever and whenever they please -- lots and lots of it.

MeanMesa will undoubtedly be returning to this topic soon enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment