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Friday, June 04, 2010

Big Oil and Bobby Jindal (cont.)

Continuing my rant from yesterday's post re Bobby Jindal's utopian air of laissez-faire oil drilling, I'd like to point to the map, specifically to Nigeria. The country, sitting in the middle of the African continent on the crook of the western coastline, is the most populous in Africa. It is rich as well. Rich in oil. Unfortunately is is poor in just about everything else, also mainly due to oil.

From 1970 to 2000, according to Nigerian government estimates, there were 7000 oil spills in the country. One of the most devastating spills has occurred in the Niger Delta, and is at least as large as the Deepwater Horizon disaster now pummeling the Gulf of Mexico.

But in Nigeria there is no camera crew to cover it. No Brian Williams to interview some government hack. There isn't even a Shell Oil executive appearing on TV wearing a look of frustration. There's pretty much nothing, except for a lot of oozing ugly greasy black stuff.

Nigerian light crude--the most desired of the grades of oil--accounts for 40% of the amount of oil the US imports. 40%! But do we care about the Nigerians living in this hell-hole? Heck no. (Nigerians now have a life expectancy of...40!) Do any of the oil companies? No. Shell waited six months to even send somebody out to the latest spill. As long as BP cleans up our mess (not a sure thing, by the way) we don't seem to have a concern. But we should. Here's why:

1) Nigeria and Mexico and other large third world countries that live on the income that oil gives them are proving grounds for the basic truth of the oil industry: Greed matters and it is the only thing that matters. Fishing industry ruined? That is not the concern of Big Oil. Human rights? Not the concern of Big Oil. General welfare of the populace? Not the concern of big oil.

2) Oil drilling is hazardous, not only to those brave souls who live--and die--doing the hard labor, but for those living nearby and those living even not so nearby. Water in Nigeria may very well become more valuable than the oil that has poisoned so many wells, simply because it is becoming scarce. Here's a clue: we can believe that oil is becoming scarce when Big Oil starts caring about all the crap it is leaving behind.

3) Oil drilling has one certainty to it: environmental disaster. Let's start adding up the real cost of oil. If we did we'd find that a gallon of gasoline doesn't truly cost $2.86 a gallon but more like $10 a gallon.

4) Bobby Jindal is one of a bunch of government flunkies that will do the bidding of Big Oil, even to the detriment of those electing him. These people get elected by ignoring the reality of the Gulf, of the Mexican spills, of the Exxon Valdez, of Nigeria. They say things like "we shouldn't have to choose between clean beaches and oil."

Well we do. We have to choose. Let's do choose and choose wisely.

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