By Ralph Nader
Instead of championing solar, wind and conservation energy, the GOP (Greedy Old Party) is championing the skyrocketing profits and prices for the omnicidal fossil fuel and atomic power companies.
Surging gasoline prices at the pump are not met with excess profits taxes on profit-glutted Big Oil. Rather the GOP and the Democrats are suspending taxes on gasoline sales that are used to repair roads and bridges. An excess profits tax could be used to provide rebates to consumers who are being gouged at the pump.
The case for an excess profits tax is made in a new report, Big Oil’s Wartime Bonus: How Big Oil Turns Profits Into Wealth, April 5, 2022, by Bailout Watch, Public Citizen and Friends of the Earth. Profits (and stocks) of companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron zoomed so much that Big Oil, not wanting to moderate their wholesale prices, have spent $45 billion of your money to buy back their stocks this past year and increase the compensation of their bosses.
Unleashing their lobbying forces in Washington, Big Oil and Gas are demanding, the report relates, “faster approval for natural gas pipelines … and increased drilling on public lands and waters.” Biden is opening up more oil and gas leases on public lands even though he reported some 9000 leases already granted are still not being utilized by the oil and gas companies.
The Biden administration is spending $6 billion to shore up aging nuclear plants that safety advocates say should be mothballed.
Washington is silent on using taxes on fossil-fuel price profiteering for more wind, solar and the little mentioned energy conservation retrofits of buildings throughout the U.S. The energy savings and renewable approach would be faster, cleaner, produce more jobs and benefit more directly to Main and Elm Streets USA.
The becalmed Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission should swing into bold action under their anti-monopoly and consumer protection authorities.
It shouldn’t have taken Consumer Watchdog in California to sound the alarm on the price manipulation by the five big oil refiners that control 96 percent of the gasoline made in California, led by Chevron. Jamie Court, the dynamic president of Consumer Watchdog, declared: “with California taxes and environmental fees adding about 60 cents per gallon, Californians have long wondered where the extra $1.50 per gallon more they are paying than other US drivers (from 5 to 7 dollars per gallon) goes, and with this legislation (SB1322) we will finally know. California has been an ATM for oil refiners for too long. SB1322 requires California oil refiners to document monthly how much they pay for the average barrel of crude oil they process into gasoline and how much they charge for the barrel of finished gasoline. At 42 gallons per barrel, we will then know how much they are making per gallon of gasoline sold in California, and be able to take back the excessive profits.” That is, assuming the completely Democratic Party dominated California state legislature enacts this legislation.
If Democrats do not stand tall in going after gasoline price inflation and other price gouging, the GOP will succeed in putting the blame on the Dems in the November elections. Washington is decades late in cutting our addiction to fossil fuels that are causing the climate crises.
On the first Earth Day in April 1970, over 1500 demonstrations against air, water and pesticide pollution were held on college campuses around the country. With the onset of the omnicidal fossil-fuel-driven climate catastrophes, leading to even more virulent wildfires, hurricanes, droughts and floods, the college campuses are now too silent, the streets are too empty, and the Congress too somnolent.
Congress is on another vacation this week so citizens should be buttonholing their representatives back home and pressing them to take action to counter the fossil fuel industry’s greed and to move toward a clean energy future.
Except for the far too small number of authentic advocates pressing decision-makers in government and industry to “follow the science”, the country’s officials appear too resigned, too attentive to short-term campaign money and political myopia to be stewards of the people, the natural environment and the planet.
If these power brokers need any more evidence of the ominous threat to humanity and its tiny planet, they should read the latest assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which said humanity has a “brief and rapidly closing window” to head off a hotter, deadly future.” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres warned that the world is “sleepwalking to climate catastrophe” as the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and lack of political willpower undermine the necessity to cut greenhouse gas pollution by about half before 2030 and get rid of the carbon footprint by 2050.
It is not as if an abused Nature is not warning homo sapiens daily with unprecedented intensifications of its deadly outbursts and disruptions all around the world.
Once again, given the way our government is structured, it is the Congress – with just 535 members – which can become the rapid engine of energy transformation to the readily known renewable solutions. Solar panels are now seen on rooftops, and windmills on hillsides. Energy efficient technologies are affordable and abundant. Unfortunately, the GOP blocked the infrastructure proposals for clean energy proposed by Biden and the Democrats. Will the voters remember in November?
You know the Congressional switchboard number: 202-224-3121. Summon your representatives to your own town hall meetings and directly confront their desire for re-election in the fall. Tell them, for the sake of the world, their country and their state, it is time to shake off whatever invisible chains are around them and do what they and most of America knows has to be done. A clean energy future is better for the climate, the economy, the health and consumer pocketbooks of ALL THE PEOPLE, regardless of their self-described political labels.
When it comes to the ravaging climate disruptions, all people bleed the same color. Summon your Senators and Representatives directly to your community. (See my book, Breaking Through Power: It’s Easier Than We Think, Pages 144-145).