Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A Stimulus Plan for the Oil Industry

In his op-ed column for today's Washington Post, Eugene Robinson writes:

" Earth to Wall Street: It's over, people. You had a terrific run, better than you deserved, but now you'd be wise to pay attention to those citizens outside, the ones with the pitchforks and the torches."

Wall Street executives may get the message some day but I hope that no one is holding their breath. Sadly, Wall Street isn't the only place in America where corporate dissociative disorder prevails.

There is clear evidence of insanity in another business sector. It seems that the Gulf Coast has spawned its own group of corporate sociopaths - oil industry executives.

In a February 2nd post for the Congressional Blog "The Hill" entitled "Stimulus for Oil Industry Creates Jobs", American Petroleum Industry President and CEO Jack Gerard seems to be asking Congress for ....

you guessed it ... a stimulus package for THE OIL INDUSTRY.

No, I'm not making this up.

This appeal from the oil industry comes just days after Exxon Mobil announced that in the fourth quarter of 2008 it suffered a terrible 33% decline in profits and barely eeked out earnings of $7.8 billion.

It was only by the skin of their teeth that Exxon Mobil was able to break their own record for "highest annual profits ever by a U.S. company, pulling in $45.2 billion in 2008, an 11 percent jump over 2007’s $40.6 billion."

On the heels of that disappointing news for the oil industry, Jack Gerard wrote:
"Whether the stimulus package before Congress will be enough to get all Americans working again, we won’t know for some time. For our country’s sake, I hope so.

But there is a lot more that can be done, including encouraging our industry, which has a proven record of providing the type of good jobs we desperately need. At the very least, Congress and the administration should refrain from setting up impediments to its growth.

America’s oil and natural gas industry already supports more than 6 million jobs. It also provides billions of dollars to federal and state treasuries. A recent study, by ICF International, shows we could do much more in both areas if allowed to develop the oil and natural gas resources that have been kept off-limits by Congress for decades. Such development would generate more than $1.7 trillion in government revenue over the life of the resources and create some 160,000 jobs in 2030."

All together now ... let's hear it ... "Drill Baby Drill"

Yes readers, in spite of the fact that an overwhelming majority of the American public now realizes: that their pockets were picked year last by oil speculators and greedy oil executives; that we need to break our national oil addiction; and that the Iraq war was largely fought over oil, Jack Gerard believes that Congress needs to "encourage" and provide stimulus for the oil industry.

As Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) so eloquently stated, "What planet are these people on?"

Things were much easier for the oil industry when all they had to do was pop over to the VP's office, close the door and work out a deal. Ah, those were the days.

Mr. Gerard does have a point, of course. Now that so many Wall Street traders have lost their jobs, Congress should do something to encourage the oil industry. So here are a few suggestions for stimulating the oil industry:

1. A bipartisan panel should be formed to review the National Energy Policy produced by the Cheney Energy Task Force created by Executive Order in January 2001. The panel should interview All of the available original policy drafters in order to determine which elements of the plan were the most effective, and for whom.

2. The bipartisan Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan should hold a hearing to evaluate how the oil industry has benefited from the sale of gasoline and other petroleum based products during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars? Is there a correlation between successive years of record breaking oil profits and the fuel demands of a wartime military?


3. Congress should pass H.R. 104 - the bill to create a Commission on Presidential War Powers and Civil Liberties. This commission can investigate former Federal Reserve Chair, Alan Greenspan's theory that the Iraq war was primarily about oil. It can also determine if and/or how subsequent executive branch decisions were influenced by the National Energy Policy.

For example, how did the appointment of Ray L. Hunt, Chief Executive of Hunt Oil to the President's Foreign Intelligence Advisory Board affect US foreign policy in Iraq?

Hopefully, these actions will provide just the stimulus that the oil industry needs to encourage it to invest years of their windfall profits into the research and development of alternative energy which will in turn continue to create jobs and benefit the American economy.

Ground Control to the Oil Industry - Can You Hear Us?

Related posts:

Exxpose Exxon - Jan., 2006

Passing the Buck on Energy - April, 2006

Who Profits from High Oil Costs & The War
November 2007

Related articles:

Conspiracy Theories Abound As Oil Prices Fluctuate
by Steven Mufson for the Washington Post

Big Business, Bad Business
for TomPaine.com

A Surge, and then A Stab
by Paul Krugman for the NYTimes

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