It is painful to fill up my gas tank these days, and while I hate what it does to my monthly budget, part of me knows we are approaching a tipping point that might be very good for us. We are living in peak oil times. Even if we suck the earth as dry as possible with new oil drilling, we have more access to oil now than we will ever have again, and from here on out there are diminishing return on our financial investments. Very soon our supply will be in terminal decline. Any person that has the cognitive power to project that situation into the future can see that our gas and oil prices will not be coming down anytime soon, (according to the law of supply and demand). Subsidizing this lame duck energy source makes no sense for our security, comfort, or pocketbook – and Americans know it. Cursory googlings found that somewhere between 59%-74% of Americans are ready to cut subsidies that act like training wheels for an industry that has left tire tracks across our backs.
The Christian Science Monitor reports that “[oil and gas] receive about $41 billion in annual subsidies annually. That amounts to more than half – 52 percent – of total benefits distributed to energy sectors by the federal government.”
What the heck? More than half of our tax supported energy subsidies go to the industries that have been proven harmful to health and nature. Let’s look at the other 48%.
Coal 8 billion
Nuclear 9 billion
Ethanol 6 billion
Renewables 6 billion
The CSMonitor report lumps all renewables into one category, noting the wind gets the lion’s share of that amount, but it also includes solar, biomass and geothermal. So the total of subsidies (in the form of tax breaks, loan guarantees, and funding for R&D) for fossil fuels is 58 billion, for renewables it’s 6 billion – I left Ethanol out due to the debate that it uses more energy (many time fossil fuel energy) than it creates.
Again, what the heck? This ratio makes no sense at all. I can recognize that because our system is heavily dependent on fossil fuels and so a sudden revocation of all financial props could send our economy into an even crazier tailspin than we’ve had, but fossil fuels are propped up with benefits nearly 10 times as much as renewables. Even the threat of (further) socio-economic collapse is hard to buy for the oil and gas industries when you check out their profits.
This from the League of Conservation Voters:
The top five oil companies announced profits totaling $32 billion for the thirdfiscal quarter, bringing their total profits for 2011 to an astounding $101 billion.
- Chevron today announced its third quarter profits of $7.83 billion, bringing their total earnings for 2011 to over $21 billion. [Washington Post, 10/28/11]
- Exxon Mobil had third quarter profits of $10.3 billion, bringing their 2011 total profits to over $31 billion. [CNN, 10/27/11; ThinkProgress, 10/27/11]
- Royal Dutch Shell had third quarter profits of $6.98 billion, bringing their 2011 total profits to over $21 billion. [Wall Street Journal, 10/27/11; ThinkProgress, 10/27/11]
- ConocoPhillips announced $2.62 billion in profits for the third quarter, making their total profits for 2011 $9 billion. [AP, 10/26/11; ThinkProgress, 10/26/11]
- BP had third quarter profits of $4.9 billion, bringing their 2011 total profits to $16 billion. [AP, 10/25/11; ThinkProgress, 10/25/11]
Oil profits totaled $98 billion dollars!!! I’m wanting to cry myself a river over their financial struggles. Americans want the oil and gas subsidies to stop now. Matter of fact, I am going to make a bit of an exception to my one rule on CivilTongue, and if a corporation is a person, let them identify themselves as such and respond back to me. Will the real oily bastards please stand up – not their spokesperson, but the actual “personhood” person. I think BP is a slimy, earth-killing, con artist. Shell is a back-stabbing, greasy thug. Chevron is a dream killing suck on society. ConocoPhillips is a oily, rotten, scoundrel. Exxon Mobil is a greedy, tar spewing asshole. There I said it. Phew. The collective actions of these “personhoods” is nothing short of extortive terrorism and organized crime.
I know the above is quite uncivilized, but my rule of civilization applies to how actual humans treat each other in a debate. I want to establish an underlying culture where it is safe and effective to bother trying to explain your point to someone who disagrees with you. A place where flame wars don’t happen and digressions into petty bickering aren’t cool. However, I also recognize that as humans, passions do run high and sometimes you have to express outrage where it is due. The civility rule specifically applies to humans, which of course does not include corporations.
Of course this simple logic of not funneling more money to a company that regularly extorts money from you is lost on folks like Rand Paul. He hit the senate floor to support the subsidies and has some great catch phrases like, “We need to glorify those that make a profit.” Referring to oil companies he says, “you should want to encourage them. I would think you would want to say to the oil companies, “What obstacles are there to you making more money?” He mentions job creations as a supporting argument, but the thrust of his speech has more of a social morality implication – that if you make less than $70k a year you are basically a leech on society because you don’t pay as many taxes as those richer than yourself.
This seems so simple: we need to invest in more renewable energy. The extortive oil companies have just about bled us dry, it’s time for us to get out of this awful mentality of protecting the perpetrator. Like a domestic violence victim, it will be scary to walk away since we have been so dependent, but it is for the best. We need to protect our children and our future as a nation. We must learn a new way and support it with our dollars, because it is the only hope for a future that doesn’t involve a filthy, greasy, dangerous legacy of servitude. Sustaining life must be a priority – human life as well a our living food chain; you don’t have to be an environmentalist to understand that. Renewables are the only way. The wind in our sails, the sun on our faces, the plants at our feet – the energy is there, waiting to be unlocked.