04-27-07 by Dugan
Here’s news that screams “Brought To You By Big Oil” Well-reported stories from the AP and USA Today report a sharp oil price jump after news of a foiled Al Qaeda attack on Saudi oilfields. Duh. Who couldn’t see that story coming?
It’s a real connect-the-dots moment. As I reported earlier today, gasoline prices in Southern California, the Midwest and likely elsewhere are already zooming up at wholesale. This new oil increase, if it sticks, will give oil companies another excuse to raise gasoline prices far above the level justified by the oil price. And the economy, not just motorists, will suffer. $4 gasoline, recently pooh-poohed by the oil industry and the federal Energy Information Administration, now looks more real.
The AP story notes the Commerce Department’s report this morning that U.S. economic growth slowed to 1.3 percent in the 1st quarter, the smallest increase in four years. Inflation jumped sharply, pushed by energy prices (see: record oil company profits. Chevron here, Exxon here). All the Secretary of Commerce (quick, can you name him?) did was to paint a smiley face on the report, saying “Hey, it’s still growth!”
Chevron, Exxon, Shell, Conoco, BP and their brethren are pushing the economy into recession, trashing the dollar, gouging consumers and encouraging despots around the world, from Russia to Iraq to Venezuela. Oh, and the global warming thing. Does President Bush really think his oil buddies will give up any part of their petroleum exclusivity, much less spend real effort on commercial development of biofuels?
Yes, we can all individually use less energy. But only government has the policy-making and regulatory power to pull the U.S. away from oil with renewable fuels, less gasoline-dependent transportation and green technology.
I believe the combination of the new profit reports, the oil price spike and the steeply slowing economy will finally focus Congress and state lawmakers (though maybe not California’s asleep-at-the-wheel governor and Legislature). Stay tuned.