Get ready for the next Big Lie from Big Oil

Did you think it was just an accident that conservatives seem so good at singing from the same hymnal on the issue du jour, whether it’s privatizing social security, blaming the Dodd-Frank bill for Bank of America’s (now cancelled) $5 debit card fee or defending Hermann Cain from sexual harassment charges?

Well, it’s not an accident. Whether it’s El Rushbo, John Boehner or Michele Bachmann, they all actually did get the memo.

And that memo is given out at the conservative strategy meeting that Grover Norquist holds every Wednesday for GOP congressmen, staffers, lobbyists and industry leaders at the Americans for Tax Reform headquarters in Washington, DC. “The invitation-only meetings Norquist hosts have become a hot ticket for Washington’s conservative in crowd, the place for GOP players to brainstorm, swap intelligence, and see and be seen,” writes Mother Jones.

Well, it appears that one of Norquist’s meetings in the last few months must’ve been about starting a coordinated offensive to push “North American energy independence.” Or else the oil industry must have its own version of Norquist’s meeting, either in DC or maybe in Houston.

A cottage industry of disinformation

A “cottage industry” seems to be developing, according to Steve LeVine in Foreign Policy, “around the notion that the U.S. not only isn’t facing an impending oil shortage — it is on the cusp of being nearly energy independent, short of a margin of barrels that will be imported from friendly Canada and Mexico.”

Is this a new consensus, or is it group-think, asks Levine? I think it’s neither. I used to work in PR and to me, this smells of a coordinated PR campaign. It can’t be a coincidence that, just months after the International Energy Agency announced that world oil production had peaked in 2006, now so many voices are now coming out to claim that America has nothing to worry about as long as we drill-baby-drill.

Indeed, Lorne Stockman over at Oil Change International tells me that the American Petroleum Institute has been making the rounds on Capitol Hill with a presentation claiming that unconventional oil resources will deliver for decades.

So, it can’t be a coincidence that eternal oil cornucopian Daniel Yergin came out with his new book The Quest, claiming that new technology gives a new lease on life to dead and dying oil fields. Or that, in October, the New York Times came out with a dreadful special section on energy and quoted one consultant claiming that “Unconventional oil and gas are at the beginning of a technological cycle that can last 60 years. They are really in their infancy.” Or that conservative talk radio and Fox News have been all aflutter with “drill, baby drill” talk again.

Expect to see more of this campaign, because the guys at the API have deep pockets and they clearly see that now is the time to strike.

— Erik Curren, Transition Voice

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  1. Auntiegrav says

    Or maybe, it’s just the way the perceptions flow around energy right now, and the more people start looking at energy, the more they see that it isn’t a simple answer of drilling more wells or stealing more oil (or running out). Instead of just oil industry pundits begging for more money for well drilling “research and development”, we now have a larger number of intelligent, technical people talking about oil. They are starting to poke their noses in old places: old wells that were simply drilled, pumped, and closed that could be renovated with steam injection, etc.
    Sure, there is probably also a propaganda campaign; there always is. The real questions that should be asked, however, are about the quantities and the needs. Most of the transportation usage is wasted on moving cars around while people go places they don’t need to go (driving to the mall to buy new clothes to go to the mall). As we look technically at the availability of oil, we also need to look technically at the use of it and the quantitative future of oil. The conservatives want everyone to be fat, dumb and happy and buying oil. The liberals want everyone to be skinny, rich, and happy and buying tuition and textbooks. What do people really need to be and do? Why do we allow them to waste so much energy?
    Pursuit of happiness is the bullshit line. Nobody can buy “happy.” Anyone that tells you otherwise is selling something, but that’s the only path we have now: selling something. Logical, scientific capitalism has outlawed sensibility.

  2. says

    Well now Auntiegrav, you raise some interesting points and on the whole I tend to agree wth almost everything you wrote. I do have to take issue with one point though – “Most of the transportation usage is wasted on moving cars around while people go places they don’t need to go (driving to the mall to buy new clothes to go to the mall).” Well, maybe in the US.

    Can’t agree! Much more oil is used – and much Much more oil is wasted just moving stuff around – not people. We have just finished the maize harvest here in Hungary. I watch the tractors going by. HUGE tractors with equally huge eight wheeled trailers. I asked my Hungarian friend. He told me that each of those trailers contains 35.5 tonnes of maize. Some of them go east and some of them go west. The puzzlement is “Why do not the ones going east go to where the ones going west are going” and vice versa?

    Living here I tend not to think about cars. But I do tend to think about food-miles – and it is all done using diesel (or even worse aviation fuel). Choice of transport in the village is the bicycle. If I can knock a meal together by cycling half a kilometre for eggs, walking a couple of hundred metres for locally produced meat and walking the fifty metres to my garden for the rest I am a happy bunny.

    I think the real problem is the almost total disconnect that there exists now between food and where it actually comes from. A friend of mine in the village told his mother (in the UK) that his elderly lady neighbour over the road raises two pigs a year. “What for?” says mother. “To eat!”
    says son. Mother was horrified. I posted on some random website a comment about choosing a hen and catching t and despatching it to eat. The reply was “OH you cruel man. Why can’t you go to the supermarket where they are made”. Total disconnect.

    I guess that I have about seen the full cycle of this. When I was a very young boy my grandfather used to raise a pig in his back garden . well in a pen in his back garden. At about this time of year the local butcher would be called in to deal with it. I guess that is why I so much love living here. It is like stepping back two generations.

    Random ramblings, but I still reckon moving just food about (and producing it via agri-business) uses more fuel than moving people about.

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