Sunday, November 30, 2014

President Obama: Major Player in the 21st Century Oil Wars - Michael Bargo, Jr.

by Michael Bargo, Jr.

Since 2009, when President Obama started his first term, his actions show that he has blocked the Keystone XL pipeline to benefit a big financial contributor to the Democratic Party, Warren Buffet.

The Democratic Party has portrayed itself as champions of the environment and keepers of a green, natural earth. They have consistently portrayed the oil industry as a greedy enterprise that spoils the planet and indentures the working class so that the few can become super wealthy. While the Democrats promote this image, a look at the actions of President Obama may tell a different story.

Ever since he first took office in 2009, Obama has become personally involved in, and should be seen as the major player in, what can only be called the “Oil Wars” of the early 21st century. Under his administration, middle-class Americans have paid the highest prices for gasoline in history and he has done little to either lower prices or free the American oil market from the control of foreign oil producers. 

There are several issues related to the oil business where President Obama has interfered with free market forces. These are in the exploration of oil, the procedures used to obtain oil, and the transportation of oil. All three impact the product of oil and ultimately the price Americans pay for gasoline. 

The second half of the 19th century saw the rise of oil baron John D. Rockefeller, who used a combination of business maneuvering and political influence to build up a great oil fortune. A major part of his ability to dominate America’s oil supply was through transportation of the oil. There were two competing methods then, as today: via rail and pipeline. 

Since 2009, when President Obama started his first term, his actions show that he has blocked the Keystone XL pipeline to benefit a big financial contributor to the Democratic Party, Warren Buffet. Crude oil prices reached their all-time high in 2008. Buffet’s Berkshire Hathaway purchased a 22% shared of the Burlington Northern Railroad for $34 billion dollars in 2009, Obama’s first year. Since then President Obama has consistently rejected plans to build the Keystone XL pipeline. Another politician who is financially involved in Nebraska’s Democrat Senator Ben Nelson, who happens to own between $1.6 and $6 million of Berkshire Hathaway stock. 

Of course, these Democrats used the green language and reflect a concern for the environment. But they have fought against construction of the Keystone XL primarily because Warren Buffet bought into the Burlington Northern Railroad so he could reap immense profits by transporting oil by rail. The pipeline would greatly interfere with his plans and profits. Transportation by rail is slower and carries its own set of environmental concerns. 

President Obama has also acted to maintain high gasoline prices for the middle class and poor by banning shale drilling on federal land. The recent drop in gasoline prices is due to the fact that the Saudis don’t want the American-owned oil fields to compete with them. The huge increase in oil production brought on by shale fracking has provoked the Saudis to sell their oil at lower prices, lowering the price to $77 per barrel. Their production costs are lower and they are able to sell for less.  They hope to stamp out the American shale oil supply. Small communities across the U.S. are illegally banning fracking.  

The president has also made a weak argument that crude from the XL pipeline would only be exported, and not end up lowering prices for Americans. That position would be more believable if Obama consistently acted to lower gasoline prices for America’s working class, and he has clearly not done so.

President Obama’s choices clearly prove that he is more concerned with maintaining the flow of campaign cash from billionaires such as Warren Buffet than helping American families make ends meet. He has a reckless disregard for the financial disaster of the last six years, and actively obstructs anything that can make life easier for the middle class and poor.  

Another benefit Obama gets from high gasoline prices is taxes: the higher the price, the more taxes are paid to big states run by Democrats. There are only seven states that charge a percentage tax at the fuel pump. Illinois, Obama’s home state, is one of them. Those who buy gas in Chicago are paying an additional state tax of 6.25% while 42 states have no additional sales tax of that type at all. All of this points in one direction: that Obama’s main concern is to keep money from taxpayers’ pockets flowing to states run by Democrats, and to maintain the flow of campaign contributions from billionaires such as Warren Buffet. Not since the late 1800s has a politician played such as an important role in using federal power to control oil production.

Readers may remember that when gasoline first reached four dollars a gallon under President George W. Bush, he announced that federal lands and offshore areas would be open to drilling. This simply announcement lowered the price of gasoline, in just four months, back to $1.43 a gallon. However, President Obama’s party likes high gasoline prices, they keep his vast army of state and local political officials in power. The U.S. Energy Information Administration is tasked with recording the prices of gasoline by state. But President Obama suspended the collection of price information by state in February 2011 and none are available since then.

And all the while the media allow him to get away with the phony rhetoric that he is concerned with the environment, the middle class, and poor. President Bush was called an “oil man” because he once has a small investment in an oil-drilling firm. But he acted to lower the price of gasoline, and President Obama has not. The price of gasoline was consistently lower under the term of President Bush than it has been under President Obama. Obama should be called the “oil man” based on his policies. That he covers up this strategy with talk of green energy and a concern for kitchen-table finances is particularly disturbing.  

John D. Rockefeller, Andrew Carnegie, J P Morgan, and the other great robber barons could not have grown their power and influence without the cooperation of the political leaders of their time. President Obama uses his green energy rhetoric and federal control over energy regulatory agencies to promote his party’s agenda. He supports the Democratic national machine both through environmental group campaigns and most importantly, through gasoline taxes. 

It is interesting to note that if David Axelrod had been John D. Rockefeller’s public relations consultant, he probably would have stated that Rockefeller was the original advocate of protecting animal rights and the environment. He saved the world’s whales by popularizing the use of kerosene in lamps, and saved millions of horses from the unethical treatment of being used to haul wagons in America’s cities through his creation of vast quantities of gasoline. Not to mention how Rockefeller greatly improved the air quality and environment of America’s city streets by ridding them of horse manure. 

When the history of today’s “oil wars” is written President Obama will be seen as the major political player in forcing the middle class to suffer high gasoline prices. 

Michael Bargo, Jr.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

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