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Time to Step Up and Speak Out Against Big Oil

We need to get the bought-and-paid-for politicians out of the way and get our press to actually cover the horrors of tar sands oil and the reality of climate change.

ExxonMobil, one of the most profitable companies in the world that regularly pays no US income tax, had a pretty horrible tar sands oil spill in Arkansas last month. Most people have heard bits and pieces of the story, but here’s what you probably have not heard from the corporate media.

First off, you got a glimpse of the pipeline rupture and spill because of citizen bloggers and journalists like Drew Barnes, who posted this on YouTube. But you haven’t seen much coverage from the air of this, have you? That’s because, just like with the BP/Halliburton blowout in the Gulf, the FAA imposed a “no fly zone” over the oil spill. You’re not allowed to see what’s going on. ExxonMobil has even hired local police for “security” and they’re doing a pretty good job of keeping reporters away, according to Mother Jones reporting that documented numerous instances of people being threatened with arrest for just trying to ask questions or take pictures on site.

Second, with all the money and profits from that oil pipeline, ExxonMobil doesn’t have to pay into the federal fund to clean up oil disasters. Including this one. Why? Because this isn’t “oil,” it’s that stuff that the press refers to as “tar sands oil from Canada” but is know legally as “diluted bitumen.” And, according to a 1980 law pushed through and passed by our bought-off Congress, that stuff that comes from Canada, the “diluted bitumen,” not being “oil,” isn’t subject to the tiny taxes that are imposed on regular oil to pay into a fund to help cover the costs of spills.

Another reason by the “diluted bitumen,” aka “tar sands oil” that’ll be coming down the Keystone XL pipeline, will be even more profitable for the big oil companies who plan to refine it on the Texas coast and then ship the refined diesel they extract from it to England, Mexico, Brazil, and China. We, by the way, will get to keep all the poisons left over from the refining process. And we get to pay for all the cancers from them – expect “Cancer Alley” down South to grow substantially.

Finally, to add insult to injury, we get one of the more heavily-oil-industry-funded members of Congress, Oklahoma Republican Congressman Markwayne Mullin tells us that, “Exxon should be patted on the back for the way they handled this.”

And this clueless congressional newbie repeats the lie that if the Keystone pipeline, carrying more of this tar sands oil to the Gulf Coast, is finished, it’ll reduce our dependence on Middle Eastern oil. Trying to tie the wonders of ExxonMobil to the bombing in Boston, he said, “I mean, would we rather buy oil from the Middle East that sponsors the acts that we see like at the Marathon that we just saw yesterday?”

I guess the Congressman got out ahead of John King and CNN in knowing who blew up the pressure cookers in Boston. But aside from that stupidity, the pipeline won’t reduce our dependence on foreign oil a bit, because all that slurry from Canada is going to very, very profitable refineries on the Gulf Coast where they can export the refined gas and diesel overseas. Last year, our nation’s number one export wasn’t TVs or jeans or computers – we don’t even make those things here anymore. It was gasoline and diesel fuel.

Yep, the big oil companies are exporting gas and diesel from the US like crazy, keeping the prices here high for us – and the profits for them – very, very high. And they want to export even more. And let us keep the cancers and the oil-spill risks.

We’ve been scammed. From the 1980 law exempting the oil companies from paying into cleanup funds for Canadian tar sands oil, to blocking our press from covering their spills, to our members of Congress being bought and sold.

And all of this to keep alive a 19th century fuel that’s destroying our planet.

It’s time to leave behind fossil fuels altogether. Portugal just produced 70 percent of all their power needs from renewables. We can, too. We’re still the nation that put a man on the moon, that invented the transistor and integrated circuit, that has led the world for centuries.

If we can just get the bought and paid for politicians out of the way, and get our press to actually cover the horrors of tar sands oil and the reality of climate change, we just may be able to once again have that JFK vision of the “city on the hill.” We should even take a lesson from the dozens of nation’s that have nationalized their oil and, like Norway, used the money to send their kids to college. It’s time to step up and speak out.

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