June 19th, 2006

Energy Independence Isn’t The Goal

So said the president of Shell Oil Company to Tim Russert, host of NBC’s Meet The Press on Sunday, June 18th, 2006.

Russert had the heads of three of the four largest oil companies (Shell, Chevron, and ConocoPhillips) in for a chat about high prices, consumer angst, and alternative fuels. When asked by Russert whether the oil companies and the White House were engaged in talks to wean America of its “addiction to oil,” John Hofmeister, head of Shell Oil replied,

“I think energy independence is the wrong direction because the United States is not an island nation. We are interdependent on all of our global companies doing business all over the world, and I think the oil companies need to be more interdependent as well. I think it’s good for international relations. I think it’s good for the economy, actually, to have oil come from wherever it can come from. Now we can do a lot more in this country. The 102 billion barrels of known oil reserves and gas reserves that we don’t have access to in this country on federal land and the outer continental shelf…we’d like to go produce that and we know how to produce that and I think we know how to protect the natural environment in sound ways.”

What? Energy independence is NOT the course to take? And here I thought that’s what the president meant when he said we needed to cure our addiction to oil. Gosh, did I miss something?

Looking a little closer at the actual words gives me even more reason to pause. What Mr. Hofmeister is really saying is that it is large, multi-national corporations who run the show and that not only should the oil companies work together to consolidate a hold on world fossil fuels, but they should have carte blanche to get fossil fuels wherever they may be found. Sounds like someone has a Napolean complex to me.

This monologue from Hofmeister came near the end of the segment, but there was plenty more good stuff before this show capper.

When asked about the future of energy, including the importance of renewable and alternative energy, all three CEO’s asserted that regardless of the public desire for alternative, renewable fuel sources, we were going to be tied to fossil fuels for at least 30 and upwards of 100 years. Each man danced around the possibility of non-oil energy while insisting increased efforts to increase supply of fossil fuels- from various forms of oil (sand, shale, conventional), gas (including LNG), and coal- were of primary importance at this time.

All three oil barons put up the standard defense vis-à-vis profit margins. Every oil company has experienced record breaking profit margins in the last year and change. Russert wondered why they couldn’t cut prices and earn only a 30% profit instead of 50% or 60%? Why were retiring CEO’s handed $400 million retirement packages? Didn’t they care about the public perception, which shows a 71% negative approval for oil companies? Investment in oil prodiction, offsetting losses in other divisions, and even some research into future energy sources. But none conceded that profits were obscene. No one suggested that consumers will ever get a break.

In the end, what probably shocked me most was the smugness of these men, especially Hofmeister. They spoke of the consumers and the hurricane victims and the hard time high prices are causing, and kept using the term ‘we.” And it occurred to me that the ‘we’ they are speaking of is not the American people. These men try to act like they are just another great American company, but it isn’t true. These companies are multi-national octopuses with tentacles spread across the globe. They don’t care about any one country at all. They care about the money, and the power that comes from controlling the people who control the oil.

It is clear now that if America is ever going to find a solution to our energy woes, woes that compound our foreign policy aims and national viability into the future, it will have to be done in good old-fashioned American tradition. It will be up to the independent thinkers and engineers and financiers who understand the importance of energy independence. It will be up to individual consumers and forward thinking businesses. In short, it is up to us.

The oil companies don’t want us to think of energy independence because that means they lose their money and their power. They lose their ability to manipulate international politics and internal politicians. They lose their strangle hold on the economy and transportation, and everything that makes our modern world modern. Because once we have energy independence, we can really begin to stretch our wings towards freedom, prosperity, and a more peaceful existence.

To be fair, all three executives agreed that we need to take a serious look out our energy demand issues, but their answer isn’t to conserve so much as it is to increase supply. And not just any old supply, but more fossil fuels. (Damn, I was trying to show something positive.)

You can watch the entire show here. This segment is the last of the show, starting around 35 minutes or so.

(cross posted at Common Sense)

Meet The Press, Shell Oil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, energy independence, fossil fuels, alternative energy, John Hofmeister, Tim Russert

Tags: Meet The Press, Shell Oil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, energy independence, fossil fuels, alternative energy, John Hofmeister, Tim Russert

Posted in General, Politics, Current Affairs, Economics, Science, Environment

1 Comment(s)

Leave a response »

  1. LiberPaul Says :

    As disturbing as it is, I can’t say I am surprised by this at all.  After all it is the oil companies who have been behind this Nations energy policy for many years and look at its fruits - oil companies making billions more than before.  Their only interest is in KEEPING America addicted to oil, it’s what they do and they will do everything in their power to make sure it stays the same.  You are right, it will take old-fashioned entreprenuership to get the alternate energy ball rolling.  Although, every major oil company besides Exxon is investing (chump change yes) in alternate energy,  but I think it is just for PR at this point… 

    Comment unrated

Leave a Reply

Note: if you are typing html tags into the comment area manually (i.e. not using the editor) please use the "toggle html source" option above.

Fact-check it!

Enter a keyword, click the button below. Search result opens in new tab / window