On this fifth anniversary week of the disastrous BP oil spill into the Gulf of Mexico, it becomes clearer and clearer that oil spills are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to wreck the oil business is doing to our one and only planet.
The Gulf — and its economic system — is still recovering from the BP catastrophe that shot over 200 million gallons of oil into this vital and fragile eco-system. It precipitated unfathomable damage to wildlife, fisheries, the coast-line, and tourist driven economic system of the area.
American Petroleum Institute CEO Jack Gerard declared the occasion a “uncommon incident”, though, as Americans United for Change defined in a Tv spot earlier this week, there are a reported 14,000 oil spills reported each year within the United States.
And let’s recall that the immediate damage to our environment pales in comparison to the long -time period injury being finished by the each day discharge of massive quantities of greenhouse gases that end result from the makes use of of most oil based products.
You might ask your self, if these oil firms simply need to sell vitality, why should they care if you’re buying oil or one thing else — why not swap to producing a clean, renewable alternative? We know — in spite of everything — that even with oil at this yr’s decrease prices, there are many alternatives which can be just as efficient and massively cleaner.
The rationale is easy. Large oil corporations, each personal and government owed, control oil fields containing billions of barrels of oil which are worth trillions of dollars.
BP itself estimated last 12 months that the world had about 1.7 trillion barrels of reserves (of which the U.S. has about 44.2 billion). Even at in the present day’s comparatively low oil price of $fifty six.4 per barrel, these reserves are price $95.1 trillion dollars.
Anything that threatens to forestall the oil companies from selling those 1.7 trillion barrels of oil — or that reduces demand and due to this fact the long run price of that oil — costs these oil companies actually trillions of dollars over the next 50 years.
That’s a very good cause why most oil firms don’t do so much to advertise different, renewable alternatives.
It’s an excellent purpose why oil corporations lay our a fortune to defeat bills that put a price on carbon — like the cap and commerce bill that was proposed by President Obama and handed the House early in his administration.
It’s the reason oil firms try to get rid of the renewable gasoline standards that require the use of renewable alternatives and have spawned a home ethanol industry.
But you won’t know, it is also a purpose why the oil industry does the whole lot in its power to strong arm gas stations not to promote gasoline blends which have more ethanol than the regulation requires.
Right now, as an illustration, a battle is raging in the Chicago City Council over an E-15 ordinance that would forestall oil companies from blocking the fuel stations that sell their merchandise from offering gas that comprises 15% ethanol — which has a 3rd more ethanol than the E-10 gas that’s now accessible.
E-15, works fine in most automobiles and ethanol could be produced more cheaply than gasoline. Ethanol also happens to burn far more cleanly than gasoline and emit much less carbon into the environment.
And this is the thing about these huge oil reserves. Not only do the oil firms flip them into trillions of dollars of revenue — when that oil is burned it turns into 21.Three billion tons of carbon dioxide every year. Solely half of that carbon dioxide is absorbed by natural processes in nature — and the result of that is very large local weather change.
It is clearly within the self interest of each individual on the planet — besides the tiny quantity who own that oil wealth — to transform as rapidly as possible from soiled, local weather changing fossil fuels to wash, renewable energy options. But that’s not at all within the monetary interest of huge oil.
As an illustration, if without even buying a brand new automotive, shoppers should buy fuel that’s 15% ethanol as a substitute of only 10% ethanol, they can be shopping for gas that has 5% less gasoline made from oil. That’s worth big sums to the oil trade.
Worse but from the oil firm’s standpoint, every single day that goes by brings us closer to the day when various, clean, renewable energy sources start to drive down demand and in the end supplant oil altogether.
The oil corporations have every incentive on this planet to sell as much of those reserves they have underneath the ground as they can, while they can — and to prevent the development of other technologies which will drive down demand — and hence the long run value of their reserves.
Within the 1970’s and 80’s the oil companies needed to restrict output and drive the worth as excessive as attainable. OPEC helped assure that supply by no means was so excessive that the worth of oil fell too far. Now they face a distinct economic reality.
Excessive prices made it economical for oil companies themselves to spend money on new applied sciences like fracking that dramatically expanded provide and impacted worth. And those same larger prices made it economical to develop and bring to scale various technologies that compete with oil altogether. That’s the last thing oil corporations want.
That is why the most important oil producers have determined that residing with decrease per barrel prices at present is better than watching their market share within the oil market itself — and the power market as an entire — decline over time.
However they still have two problems.
First, many jurisdictions have renewable gas standards that require that a certain proportion of a given power mix be produced with cleaner, renewable gas.
Second, many alternative fuels are actually simply as low-cost as oil, even at the current prices. So what to Wire mesh corrugated do?
Use brute political power to repeal renewable gasoline standards and monopoly market energy to stop your distributors, like gasoline stations from promoting renewable products.
Oil companies have been participating in an enormous marketing campaign at all levels of authorities to perform these ends. That is the rationale why it’s so necessary that their desperate try and cease the Chicago City Council from interfering with their sturdy-arm ways with gasoline station owners is such an important take a look at.
If in the subsequent few weeks, the Chicago Metropolis Council votes to allow the sale of E-15, will probably be an instance for jurisdictions across the nation. And it will not stop at E-15.
The Chicago battle is just one front in a exploding struggle to cease massive oil and end the hydrocarbon period earlier than it destroys our climate — and hobbles our financial system.
Every one of the rising variety of native battles is a part of that larger struggle.
A victory in Chicago might be just yet one more crack in the oil trade’s armor. And as the number of cracks grows, that armor will finally collapse and usher in qualitative change. It is up to us to ensure we’re not too late.
Robert Creamer is a protracted-time political organizer and strategist, and author of the book: Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win, obtainable on Amazon.com. He’s a accomplice in Democracy Partners and a Senior Strategist for Americans United for Change. Comply with him on Twitter @rbcreamer.