“Drill baby drill” isn’t an energy policy, it’s more cultural resentment

“Energy independence” has been the Republican energy policy since 1974-

Americans have a bad case of Alzheimer’s when it come to knowledge or remembrance of energy policy.  Politicians usually give them a couple shots of rhetorical whiskey to make their memory even worse.  This is my effort to help folks remember.

Gasoline prices spiked in the United States for the first time late in the Nixon Administration (1973) or so. Nixon was soon afterward replaced by Vice President Gerald Ford. Nixon resigned before he could be removed from office.

Confronted by gasoline prices that had jumped about 150%, the public was outraged. President Ford promptly announced “Project Independence,” to make America energy independent by the year whatever (obviously the goal was not met, nor will it ever be met).  Ford and the Republicans quickly shed their light green makeup after 5 years of passing the seminal environmental legislation, and they began planning big energy projects . . . coal, oil and nuclear.

Ford lasted just two years, but Democrat Jimmy Carter put together a program that was relatively successful though greatly modified by Congress.  It emphasized traditional production, but also new kinds of energy, and energy efficiency.  Driving energy prices down by production or by greater efficiency is a slow process, one reason why “drill baby drill” is  always an impossible solution to a short term jump in gasoline prices. As a result of this fact, Carter got little credit for his energy policy. Prices stayed high and the high energy prices also helped aggravate the great economic problem of the time, high price inflation coupled with slow economic growth.

Not surprisingly, Ronald Reagan won the next election. His ideas on energy were distinctly retrograde and the real beginning of the fictional energy policy so loved by the Republican base.  Reagan symbolically removed the solar energy collectors from the White House (none of the wimpy stuff for red blooded Republicans!). It was to be mine and drill. But a surprising thing happened. Carter’s energy program had finally begun to dampen energy demand and increase supply. More importantly, the OPEC nations began to fight with each other, undercutting each other and greatly reducing the artificially high oil prices they had pushed up for a decade.  Soon energy prices dropped drastically to the joy of Americans and to the the horror of energy drillers, strip miners, and plans for nuclear reactors. America soon resumed its energy guzzling ways and Reagan’s energy ideas hardly mattered. New energy production collapsed at home as prices fell. Fortunately, some of Carter’s plan remained, such as mileage requirements for autos and energy efficiency standards for a variety of home appliances.

The Middle East would not remain placid for long and OPEC would regain much of its solidarity. Through the Bush I, Carter, and Bush II Administrations gasoline and some other energy prices have repeatedly spiked, usually in relation to Middle Eastern problems. The Republican response is always the same, open up protected public lands, repeal or weaken environment protections and give the energy companies gifts of low taxes and other incentives that cost taxpayers money, but are indirect, hence hidden, and so hard to find and organize against.  These policies have not worked.

What did work best was the policy Republicans hated the most — greater energy efficiency.  In the end supply and demand must balance or there will be flat out shortages or surpluses. So from about 1976 onward, the policy that always saved the day in the short run was energy conservation, much of it was painless and cheap, but some was very hard to bear in the short run (like a big spike in gasoline prices).  Today international energy disruptions, or even rumors of them, send prices of gasoline skyrocketing. Why? Once again, it is our “friends’ on Wall Street who traffic in various energy futures.  Many believe the current surge in oil prices is almost entirely due to Wall Street speculators because there is no international shortage of oil. It is currently abundant. As gas prices soar, 70 lawmakers push for curbs on speculation. 3/6/2012. Los Angeles Times. 
One of the best sources of price stability for gasoline may not be drilling or energy efficiency, but a crackdown on economically unproductive activities that actually create instability — derivatives and hedge funds.  Despite what they say, both parties are afraid of Wall Street ever since the Supreme Court made corporations into people, people who can spend billions on political campaigns if they want to.

So we have a real problem and the Republican rhetoric has not changed since Gerald Ford, except to become particularly shrill when Obama became President.  The angry GOP base is fed by symbolic conflict, and most of them gobble up symbols like they were deep fried chunks of high fructose corn syrup. The sweet nuggets are things like calls for traditional energy, Bibles, god, bullets, the right to giant burgers and 100 watt incandescent globes, Old Glory, women who like sex and spout scripture and lecture on abstinence as foreplay. Freedom from regulation, except for regulation of moral behavior.

What I’m saying is that Republican energy policy is all about gifts to traditional industry and firing up resentment against all kinds of minorities, and even majorities (women), who are presumed to be blocking real drill-baby-drill energy policy.  Unfortunately for them, their base is a minority increasingly out of step with the rest of America, but they do have a lot of  money now, thanks to grateful billionaires.  The billionaires* are the other side of the Republican equation. They might cause a economic slowdown to influence the coming election.

– – – – –

*Not all billionaires are Republicans

Note.  I wrote this as a introduction to a number of articles coming about energy development and wildlife.  Those with a cultural chip on their shoulder don’t want some damn “sage whatever” holding up real man energy development.  Ralph Maughan, Ph. D



, , , , ,



  1. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    I think Obama has really sounded strong lately, almost a complete transformation in some ways. That will make him a winner. His supporters didn’t want a weak sounding compromiser against people who want to repeal the last 200 years.

    1. Paul Avatar

      Too late for the wolves, though.

  2. Richie.G Avatar

    Can anybody tell me when the first gas lines hit this country,I know we had two of them and the first one spiked the gas to eighty cents a gallon, the to over a dollar a gallon.I think it happened in 1978 or maybe 1975 ?, I will look it up. But I do know Washington killed muscle cars in the early seventies, with smaller bore and larger stroke engines. Also no more two quads and tri power GTO’S, Washington stated it was due to emissions standards,that was their reason.As for Obama he wants his base back, he needs his base for votes, and he needs wall street for money,he is not in a good position.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    Richie G

    I think it was about 1973 because I had begun my career then and was carpooling out of necessity with a neighbor then. For a while it wasn’t smart to drive back roads counting on an occasionally filling station or drive on weekends. The station(s) might be out of gas.

    That’s is why I wrote above “In the end supply and demand must balance or there will be flat out shortages or surpluses. So from about 1976 onward, the policy that always saved the day in the short run was energy conservation. . . ,”

  4. Richie.G Avatar

    Thank you Ralph, back east we had gas lines on the weekend I believe the stations were closed during the week. One station was giving three dollar limits,so the line moved and you just got back on it again. That was a Getty station, I remember it well I had my Shelby Mustang as my regular car back then, I must admit those were great days. The most expensive gas was sunoco 260, forty six cents a gallon in one station. That was expensive!!!! Again thanks Ralph!!!!

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      It’s almost entirely oil speculators, and it might be an uncoordinated effort to dim Obama’s reelection chances.

      1. Salle Avatar

        Sen. Bernie Sanders Demands Regulators Stop Excessive Oil Speculation


        1. WM Avatar

          From the article:

          ++Citing a recent report from the investment bank Goldman Sachs, a Feb. 27, 2012, article in Forbes said excessive oil speculation adds $.56 to the price of a gallon of gas.++

          Imagine that, Wall Street traders screwing the American public once again.

          1. Alan Avatar

            “Sen. Bernie Sanders Demands Regulators Stop Excessive Oil Speculation”
            Yes, I was reading an article the other day that said something to the effect of, “Ahh, Spring! the time of year when a young man’s fancy turns to…raising gas prices and some Senator, or two or three, who will scream, ‘Enough is enough!!’ and do absolutely nothing about it! Happens just about every year.”
            “Imagine that, Wall Street traders screwing the American public once again.” Yeah! Imagine that. Also imagine that refined fuels are now our number one export. I read the other day that the amount of fuel (gasoline, diesel and jet fuel) being shipped overseas every day is the rough equivalent of the entire output of our two largest refineries. Don’t hear much about that when folks scream, “Drill, baby. Drill!” No matter how many pipelines they build, or drilling they do, the oil companies are going to sell it to the highest bidder. They don’t want to build Keystone to the gulf for the refineries, ya know! Heck, there are refineries in Montana, and they could build a couple more, if needed, for what Keystone would cost. It’s to ship that gas to where they can sell it for 7-10 bucks a gallon; Europe and Japan.
            Maybe we could stop those exports. Maybe we could stop the Wall Street speculators from giving us the soap in the shower! But we wouldn’t want
            to be accused of being socialists! Screwing the other guy to make a buck is the American way!

        2. Doryfun Avatar

          Perhaps when Wall Street will be held accountable, with jail time, for past transgressions, will they ever be held in “real” check now or in the future for curbing the fancy dance of Speculation-High-Step-for-Greedy-Bastards.

  5. Jack Large Avatar
    Jack Large

    I first waited in a gas line in Corvallis, Oregon, in the summer of ’73.

    You’ve turned a number of very tasty phrases here, Ralph, and your voice is as authoritative as anyone could want. I’m going to share it with all my friends, as most of them are the happy combination of political progressives, writing enthusiasts and environmental savants, to one degree or another. They’re also in a couple dozen different countries. Maybe one or two of them would like to translate it. I’ll suggest it, because the part that stands out, to me, is the part that says its just the prelude, and you’ve got the whole symphony in you yet.

  6. Salle Avatar

    Lovins: End of Fossil Fuel Era an ‘Exciting Time’;

    Author and scientist Amory B. Lovins and the Rocky Mountain Institute see a bright future beyond dirty fuels… and sooner than you think


    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar

      Hardly anyone has done more insightful work on energy than Amory Lovins. I’d recommend him to everyone.

      In 1977 he wrote “Soft Energy Paths,” being the first (to my experience) who distinguished between “soft” and “hard” energy paths. The hard path is the one usually chosen: it involves huge capital investments in remote locations and a complicated distribution system. Hard systems are almost always subject to catastrophe, produce lots of negative externalities, require security from sabotage, and are anti-democratic in their design and effect.

      Soft systems are distributed rather than centralized, developed by individual and small group choice, externalities are fewer — all costs borne by the producer of the energy. They are often more efficient because they have fewer transmission or distribution costs or losses, even though some of the systems are of less than optimal scale.

  7. Salle Avatar

    And for “point source technology” that makes a lot of sense and is doable now:


    If I had property to place a system of this sort, I’d be all over that in a heartbeat.

  8. SAP Avatar

    Can you believe this unAmerican wild-eyed radical? Why does he want to destroy our American way of life?

    [volume is poor – have to turn it up loud]

    1. SAP Avatar

      I was at the lumber yard just the other day trying to remind the yardman (about 50 years old) that we had been worrying unproductively about the End of Oil for over 40 years. I asked him whether he remembered these commercials. Myself, I didn’t remember that they had NFL heroes like Don Shula as “Don’t Be Fuelish” spokesmen.

      Hardly your stereotypical Ralph Nader type.

      1. SAP Avatar

        Wow, there’s even a George C. Scott psa on energy conservation!

        1. SAP Avatar

          We’ve really regressed into a nation of self-righteous juvenile delinquents. Imagine the response to such straight talk today (ie, we have to make choices: start conserving, or maybe just close our schools so we can keep livin’ large).

          There was a great Tom Toles cartoon (can’t find it) whose message was “We need leaders who’ll tell us we don’t have to make any sacrifices!”

          Debt, gridlock, health care, obesity epidemic: hallmarks of an adolescent culture that thinks it can have its cake and eat it too.

          [sorry for all the ranting]

      2. Ralph Maughan Avatar


        The oil crisis of the 1970s was directly created by OPEC, but it was indirectly created by deliberate oil depletion in the United States. American oil companies were militantly against foreign oil imports because they would drive the price of oil down.

        An oil import quota was imposed for many years, and the country deliberately pursued a “drain America first policy.”

        When easy domestic supplies were almost all gone by 1970, import quotas were lifted and cheap foreign oil flooded in keeping gasoline prices very low. The American public had no idea of any of this. Then OPEC shut off the flow and everything changed.

        Sadly, almost no one remembers, nor did the public know about the 40 year drain America first policy.

        There will always be more oil every though the resource is finite, but the marginal cost of each new barrel will be high and the producers will try to push off many of the costs of production onto by-standers.

        1. JB Avatar

          Likewise, our latest economic crisis (national debt) was engineered by conservatives. Until 1983, people in the highest tax bracket paid 70% (or more) of their income in taxes. In ’82 it was modified to 50%, then 38.5% (in ’87), and has hovered between 28 and 39.6% ever since. Meanwhile, the baby-boomers–the largest generational cohort–started retiring, getting sick, and needing health care. But the proverbial “straw” that broke the camel’s back was going to war in Iraq and Afghanistan with a simultaneous tax decrease (thank you G.W. Bush admin.).

          Now that the conservatives have engineered a financial crisis, they are using said crisis as an excuse to kill government–especially regulatory agencies that get in the way of extractive industries. Meanwhile, the propaganda machines (Limbaugh, Fox) continue to work overtime to perpetuate the myth that this our situation is the fault of some kind of tyrannical minority of “elites” Hell-bent on socializing the US. And conservatives eat it up hook, line, and sinker.

          1. Immer Treue Avatar
            Immer Treue


            A very good summation in two paragraphs. Trickle down has really worked, hasn’t it. Satire intended.

            1. Doryfun Avatar


              Agree, good summation. Only I call it the Trickle Up process. Middle Class to one percenters. Drill, drill, drill. Earth today, Mars tomorrow.

          2. Salle Avatar

            The Scorched-Earth Politics of America’s Four Fundamentalisms


            1. JB Avatar


            2. Doryfun Avatar


              Wow, that was an exhausting article to read. But it had some great points, though some hard to swallow ones, too.

              As an archeologist, I’m sure you have no problem seeing through the dust of how our country was founded. It should be no surprise, that we continue on today with the same undermining(scortheced earth) of other people’s “rights” for our own, that established our dominionist supremacy at the get-go. The only difference now is that subjicgation of Indians has been replaced with Corporate Assimilation of the “Middle class”.

            3. Salle Avatar


              Actually, it’s cultural anthropology, which covers the activities and social/grouping strategies (tribalism) among other things relative to how humans interact. Most folks think of antho’s as archeologists though.

              Regardless of that small difference, I do agree with your point. But I would clarify that the subjugation has never been quelled by those in power in the good ol’ US of A.

              There were the indigenous folks (whom the pope deemed to be something other than humans because they weren’t christian, therefore making it okay to kill the indigenous and comforting the killers with platitudes of “sending them to the redeemer”. An so the plunder of the continent went forth with this justification of christianizing the continent.

              But there was no stopping these folks, lest we forget the slaves, indentured servants, the Irish, Chinese… and after the civil rights thing in the last century and with the advent of terrifying all others on the planet with our new military industrial complex, we have gone forth and just taken what resources we wanted from others with no repercussion, until lately.

              So now the little people are taking note that they (we) are being treated as though we are some kind of pariah-faction… and there’s hell to pay for not succumbing to the dominant faith-so to speak…

              My take is that there is always some form of tribalism at play in our culture (any culture as it appears to be a trait of human nature as well as other species). This tribalism manifests in school team spirit, religions, town pride, favored football team, political party, corporate affiliation, haves v. have-nots… It’s tribalism.

              And in the ideological sense that is manifesting these days, we’re almost right back to where we were when the pilgrims got here, culturally… only my tribe is righteous and just so the rest yoou have to assimilate or die trying (and not just in the US but any country/culture we decide to kick the $hit out of) and then apply the 17th century edicts of winner/conquerer takes all and makes the rules and decides what language the conquered will use.

              With regard to the past few decades, Naomi Klein “called it” back in 2007 in that book.

            4. Doryfun Avatar


              Sorry about the anthro/arch mix up. I do know the difference, but my memory isn’t always so sharp.

              Thanks for that detailed explanation of tribalism and your take on the un-quelling still abhorrent in our culture. Most folks believe all that ethnocentrism was past history. Unfortunately, we now use legal briefs instead of small pox to do most of the work.

              In reading Savages and Scoundrels – the Untold Story of Road to Empire Through Indian Country – Paul VanDevelder, it would seem most of sociopolitical environmental story he tells of yesteryear is happening ever bit as well in today’s world, as you mention. Leaders and followers then, specially in the South, regarded most other races and peoples as subhuman. Today, the Tea Party’s drag on the Republicans and the snowballing Religious Right Movement is an ugly reminder of a twisted by-gone era. Modern day Manifest Destiny principled against people, gender, race, and the land is our current blight.

              Land of the free, home of the brave? For whom? Justice – Just Us. (Citizens United sponsored Oligarchy). Unfortunately, the dominionist tribe has too many “Right Fighter – My Way or the Highway,” genes, which exacts a high cost to all “others.”

            5. Doryfun Avatar


              Another book you might enjoy: The Magic of Reality – How We Know What’s Really True – Richard Dawkins & Dave McKean

              Regarding tribalism, here is an interesting quote from the book: “All peoples around the world have origin myths, to account for where they came from. Many tribal origin myths talk only about that one particular tribe – as though other tribes don’t count! In the same way, many tribes have a rule that they mustn’t kill people – but ‘people’ turns out to mean only others of your own tribe. Killing members of other tribes is just find!”

              All religions have origin myths, and some are still willing to kill “others’ over it today. It seems evolution of our bodies has out-distanced that of our minds. Will our thinking ever catch up? I doubt it. That is most likely the “natural selection” mechanism that will be our regulation of impact upon the planet. Unlike government regulations, that may be self-imposed or not, nature rules, despite our denial of such.

              Count me in the camp of “ye of little faith” that man will ever rise above the tide of avarice, power, and control that floats all boats, or rather – will sink all ships.

              I was lucky to have loving parents, who took my sister and me to the outdoors early. Sunday schools and various churches were also a part of our “what all is out there, education,” but no indoctrinations. We were encouraged to ask questions and use our own thinking to step through the world.

              I hated history (bad teacher) in high school, never gaining that interest until after college (wildlife science) and I learned more about native cultures and a worldview that does not place man as the pinnacle (as does the mainline worldview where god has been made in the image of man). Over time, I have seen how education in this country reflects mostly a continuance of ways to enhance dominionist controls. It took awhile for me to question my own education in the wildlife field, and how it too reflects the same old attitude, direction, and bias.

              However, it was encouraging to see some challenges raised by the professional establishment in the Journal of Wildlife Mgt about current fish and game agency policies.
              At least a ray of hope, anyway.

              I also appreciate this blog and the level of public discourse it raises to help people become better informed and question the status quo. For the most part, that is, aside from the occasional character assignations and name calling that sometimes erodes away at the message.

            6. Salle Avatar


              I just saw your comment from this morning. All I can say is, yep, that’s kind of what I realized after a long stint in higher ed. I also saw corporate creep infiltrating the research topic agenda while dangling the $$ in front of the faculty and admin.. If you don’t have the funds and somebody doesn’t think your questions are complimentary to the funder or isn’t amicable to the current political place-holder, well…

              Aside from that, I do agree with the authors of the book you mentioned. Their assessment of tribalism is pretty much what I understand of it. The origin myth, aka the creation myth, is a staple in most cultures but, interestingly, most of the more primitive cultures (not tainted by TV and high fashion) have a very similar theme, and much of the aboriginal – on all continents – have similar musical sounds and rhythmic patterns. And they seem to come up with similar “rules” for communal living within this tribe that they establish and maintain, most also include their place in the environment as part of their moral/religious belief system.

              What I see in western tribalism is the desire to control… to control each other and everyone and everything around them. If they can’t accomplish this ideological edict, then they fail, their god, themselves, and everything they stand for. And it’s everybody’s fault, even if they don’t accept any fault for themselves (the victim-hood/martyrdom thing, it plays well in some tribes).

          3. SEAK Mossback Avatar
            SEAK Mossback

            I never stop marveling at how they’ve created such a broad, dedicated base out of the disparate, seemingly incompatible areas of Christianity, greed, militarism, narcissism, and anti-environmentalism. Step outside any one of these areas and you’ll find yourself in the sights of the enforcers: Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Fox News, etc. (directly if a politician or, if not, then by your drone neighbors who imbibe that crap morning and evening). Modern conservatism is enforced in its entirety. Those who initially agree with just part of the program, perhaps fiscal conservatism (when given the chance, the “right” has proven it represents anything but — remember Bush II and K-Street), end up believing they have to buy and display the entire package on their sleeve to fit in, and become ditto-heads. They’ll do it even if they’re in the bottom half that’s come loose from what’s left of the middle class. They’ll see culprits where they’re directed to look, just like hard-pressed Germans did after WWI — everything will be great if we can get rid of those “elites”. The leaders carry on about upholding and reviving the country while at the same time dragging it down with fantasy fiscal ideas, false notions (rejection of science), diversionary blame and an increasing fixation on military involvement. Ron Paul is the only one who has dared reject one of the basic tenets (militarism) and, while popular with many, he has yet to win a state in the primary.

            1. Doryfun Avatar

              Yes, too much religion and not enough science. The on-going assault by the Religions Right is a nefarious creep of jingoistic moralism, with a depletion of reason and critical thinking, as pompous shepards look for more blind sheep.

            2. Salle Avatar


              It’s okay if you mistook my specialty in anthropology, it’s not like I didn’t have courses directly involved in archeology, it’s the more sexy segment of a four-way school of knowledge…
              And itr isn’t like anyone wants to hear what we have to say or what suggestions for social peacemaking we might successfully impart.

              The tribalism thing is something I noticed in grade-school, I was always the outcast and did not fit into the all-american model. Not blonde and blue-eyed (as was required back in the 50’s and 60′ and since, I also “came from a broken home” both strikes against my inclusion in any acceptable group and which were among automatic disqualifiers for inclusion in groups like the Girl Scouts, sports teams and classroom cliques). If you didn’t have both parents in the home due to any other reason than separation by death-and even then sometimes-you were considered “tainted” and not worthy of salvation by religious doctrines- reinterpreted I might add). Why are these people acting and thinking like this? That was the big curiosity that drove me into that degree program.

              I see that, with the massive population of humans currently on the planet, we are destined to see more of this isolationist thinking as more people realize that they have only a select group of other humans willing and able to help them and coexist with. It’s the psychological schema utilized by military forces… demonize the “other” in order to kill them with little or no remorse. Understanding the “other” is rarely an option in that mindset-my speculation is that the founding fathers recognized this human trait and mandated a civilian executive branch, etc. in order to keep that paradigm in check by social observations of the impacts of militarism. All of the intent of the founding fathers with regard to errant factions taking control of the nation is fine except when a clearly militant faction takes over the civilian offices of the government… as we has taken place over the past couple-few decades.

              So when’s the last time anyone has heard a cultural anthropologist talk about the culture of those labeled with the price tag: “enemy”? The militant faction doesn’t want us to think about the lives we destroy with our march to democratize the planet. If you understand the culture of those not like you, it’s a lot harder to foist violence and harm upon them with the intent of simply enriching our lives for the sake of more fun and convenience… and more, more, more for cheap.

              Instead the indoctrination of violence being the only answer to any problem is rampant in our “forms of entertainment”… just look at x-box games and the like… from the hunt/kill interactive games to those that promote war-monguering and violence toward women (Grand theft auto, for instance, only portrays women as prostitutes, nearly naked, carrying around neon dildos in the streets of the city).

              These are the model images of our present-day society… it diminishes the concepts of our once agreed upon principles to a dog-whistle-response team mentality… as we can see by the clarion calls of the candidates in our current political engagements in this election cycle. It seems that the robber-barons have determined that they can just eschew the 99% and simply take control over all assets, resources, and powers of enforcement because they are the most righteous and worthy… the rest of us can either join the tribe or die. My guess, under this scenario, is that most of us will die as it’s hard to control large populations with so much diversity in all forms. So if they can pit us against each other via finger-pointing and vitriol (demonizing), we will get rid of each other and the oligarchs can then re-establish the feudal systems they so desire in order to make things “right” for them and only them.

              I fear that the only way to remove them from their thrones is to starve them of our cooperation in our own demise- and that’s not gonna be pretty in any way. It is probably the only way to bring about a more fair and balanced population of humans though.

  9. rork Avatar

    “mileage requirements for autos” – I would have preferred the far more direct expedient of taxing fuel. Might be having a different landscape around where I live had we done that.

    1. Alan Avatar

      ““mileage requirements for autos” – I would have preferred the far more direct expedient of taxing fuel. Might be having a different landscape around where I live had we done that.”
      Of course the problem with that approach is that it would disproportionately effect the poor. Those with plenty of money wouldn’t bat an eye, and would continue to drive their Hummers and 30 foot RV’s; while Grandma would have to decide whether to go to the doctor or put food on the table.
      Higher mileage vehicles or, if it came to it, rationing, are far more equitable solutions. Or stopping the exports, but who’s got the guts to do that?

  10. Ralph Maughan Avatar
    Ralph Maughan


    I think you are absolutely right, and almost all economists agree; but it isn’t politically feasible, especially when one party stands for no new taxes for any reason.

  11. SAP Avatar

    Ralph wrote:

    “What I’m saying is that Republican energy policy is all about gifts to traditional industry and firing up resentment against all kinds of minorities, and even majorities (women), who are presumed to be blocking real drill-baby-drill energy policy.”

    Agreed! It’s the War on Imaginary People. The enemy is mostly imaginary, the consequences are very very real.

    Hadn’t really seen the link before, but the “Obama is a Muslim” hallucination probably works hand-in-glove with the “Obama is preventing domestic drilling” dreck: Keeping us dependent on mid-east oil will make us slaves to Obama’s sharia puppet masters.

    Not clear on why a proponent of Sharia would also be defending same-sex marriage or women’s reproductive rights. Maybe it’s a “fifth column” strategy to weaken America’s moral fiber so we’ll be easier for the uh, who is it again? Marxists? Muslims? George Soros? Man, my head hurts.

  12. Salle Avatar

    I love this search engine:


    Try it out on all your favorite “players” (Actual humans or their corporate minds and minders)

    Warning:What you see might raise the hair in the back of your neck! (And then I suggest you read Naomi Klein’s The Shock Doctrine in case you haven’t already. Cuz it’s here, folks.

    1. Doryfun Avatar

      Where do you come up with all these things? Yes, I have read the Shock Doctrine. Many pages have been highlighted. Good/Bad and “shocking” read.

      1. Salle Avatar

        Where do I find this stuff? Like that wonderful search tool posted above?

        I get around on my days off…


        Speaking of which, I have to get to work.

  13. Richie.G Avatar

    Taxes on corporations begain all the way back to President Eisenhower,I think the tax was ninty pecent,you had to put most of the profits in the bussiness or you would be taxed at that rate.Then Kennedy lowered it to seventy percent then, I think it was either Nixon or Reagan lowered it again then Bush again. After Kennedy I do not remember who lowered it and at what rate, but it came down to somewhere in the thirties now ? I know Nixon took us completely off of the gold standard,which did not help, and today we have people saying corporations are people,”citizens united”, landmark decision by the supreme court,for no other reason we need Obama to win the election. He must get some good people on the supreme court or the tide will keep turning towards corporations.P.S. Ralph I did not realize people like Rockefeller drained our oil,his family owned standard oil ?

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar


      Depletion of the American oil resource first was an industry wide policy enforced by government regulation. It began with Eisenhower in 1953 and ended with Nixon in 1970 when the oil companies said it was no longer needed.

      1. Doryfun Avatar


        Thanks for that “American Depeletion Policy” information. I was unaware of it. Of course, that we have been manipulated by Big Oil for a long time now, is nothing new. The very sad thing is how long it has continued to be subsidized and the extreme environmental prices we have paid(and continue to pay) for it.

  14. Salle Avatar

    “This Is Our Land:” Lakota Form Human Blockade to Stop Tar Sands Trucks


    At issue was there were two trucks that appeared to be hauling pipes through the reservation on their way to Canada. The new trucks that were delivered in Texas from South Korea were carrying pipes used for tar sands pipeline. Totran Transportation Services, Inc., a Canadian company apparently wanted to avoid paying the state of South Dakota $50,000 per truck or $100,000 to use its state highways. Instead Totran Transportation thought they would use the roads on the reservation.

    Some 75 Lakota thought otherwise.

  15. Doryfun Avatar

    Go Lakota

    The corporate assault is a never ending saga on Indian lands. Not to mention all the other lands, too.

  16. Richie.G Avatar

    Thank you Ralph I did not think it would start in the Eisenhower era,the the he felt about the Military complex taking over our government policies! P.S. You started your career a long time ago !!!!

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan


      Don’t want you to think I am that old. My knowledge is from reading history.

      However, Eisenhower gave his speech about the military industrial complex in his farewell in 1960. He took office in 1953.

      The oil companies gradually expanded their political power as oil was discovered in more states. Usually the states’ senators became cheerleaders for the oil industry, especially the production side of it. In those days too, Congress was very bipartisan and there wasn’t much of a difference between Republicans and Democrats voting. Southern Democrats (a now extinct species) were the primary original supporters of big oil.

      1. Salle Avatar

        “Southern Democrats (a now extinct species) were the primary original supporters of big oil.”

        …and it’s quite obvious how that worked out for all the rest of the folks around there, and for the environment. 😉

  17. Salle Avatar

    Tar Sands Opponents Mobilize to Thwart Senate Keystone Push


  18. Salle Avatar

    Keystone XL Tar Sands Pipeline Won’t Ease Gas Prices; Senate Must Reject It


  19. Salle Avatar

    John Shimkus: Big Oil Should Write Off Drilling As Business Expense

    “Shilling for big oil at a House Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing, Rep. John Shimkus (R-IL) declared that, just like “little mom and pop drillers,” multinational corporations deserve to write off billions in tax breaks if they don’t hit oil.”

  20. CodyCoyote Avatar

    Anyone who believes that gasoline and diesel prices, and what consumers pay for natural gas or furnace oil to heat their homes is driven by the rule of Supply & Demand is not paying attention. Especially now. Hydrocarbon economics is voodoo. It’s always been about market manipulation , insider trading, and monkeywrenching the government regulatory environment by the lobbyists and co-opted congressmen (See above ). Especially the tax codes and subsidy aspects. Look no further than my own Wyoming to see all this in action , since it is so obvious here. The bucking horse and rodeo cowboy on the state symbol is nostalgic romance…a more pertinent logo would be a hardhatted driller throwing chain or tongs, or a Neo-Appalachian coal miner. Wyoming is in fact an energy colony , ruled not by a foreign government or even our own ( See above ) but by multinational corporations who themselves overarch the governments and regulators so much they are even allowed to write or rewrite the rules ( See Cheney , Richard B. ). Teddy Roosevelt could not be an effective trust buster in this day and age…the Hydrocarbon Hegemony learned the hard way from the breakup of Standard Oil and the Rockefeller empire that if you can’t work past the government, just buy it. Today’s petroleum and coal industries are just as much a consolidated monopoly as they were in Teddy’s day, only it is a Hydra creature with many heads and the remarkable ability to be in several places at once. Teddy would marvel and gasp were he to see our blue-eyed Arabs and do lunch with the Carlyle suits in Abu Dhabi or Rhijad , or BP America moguls speaking cockney in Houston as if they own the place. They generally do.

    Most of all , I would love to see Teddy’s response to the commodity brokers who buy and sell crude oil and gas futures at NYMEX , the Chicago Board of Trade, and London. If their is a single transistor junction box that controls the ebb and flow of energy prices and therefore energy markets and distribution, it is those few —very few — speculators in the handful of global trading pits , gaming the system on behalf of their investors.

    The price you pay at the pump for your gasoline has little to do with supply and demand. We currently have a gasoline, diesel, and gas glut and the US domestic energy business is exporting the stuff overseas. Were supply and demand the actual determinant, gasoline would be selling for $ 2.25 gallon and crude oil would be about $ 60 bbl currently. But neither of those products are priced anywhere near their cost of discovery , production, and distribution with a reasonable profit. Rather they are manipulated from inside out, not outside in. The Rockefellers that Teddy Roosevelt went after were big easy targets since they were elephants in an empiracy without competition. Today’s Hydrocarbon Hegemony also has no competition , anywhere. The global energy market is one of collusion.

    Once you understand that , the rest lines up behind it nicely. Look at Wyoming and weep.

  21. CodyCoyote Avatar

    I also want to add one little historical nugget that is too often left out of the discussion about global oil supply : the source of the cozy relationship between the US and Saudi Arabia.

    President Franklin Roosevelt quietly negotiated a pact with Ibn al-Saud, the king who united the tribes of the Arabian peninsula and gave birth to the Royal kingdom there. This pact , done in 1938 BEFORE World War II but in the afterglow of the crumbling British Empire as maps were redrawn and countries created. FDR guaranteed the US would handle Saudi Arabia’s external security with assured military power , IN RETURN FOR an assured crude oil supply in perpetuity. Thus was born the Arab-American Oil Company , ARAMCO , a sweetheart deal if there ever was one. ***

    That pact is still in effect to this day ( see Bush , George H.W. et al ; cozy relationship with Saudi crown princes ). Recall who always moderated or mitigated the effects of various oil embargoes and wild swings in oil prices since the 70’s …the Saudis. For 75 years the American people have been partnered with the Saudis , and this relationship has been carefully camouflaged for the most part. The $ 5 per barrel crude oil ( actual cost ) is extracted thru drillstems put there by American roughnecks and oil refined in refineries built by Americans.

    Not that our ongoing pact has always been productive or even friendly. The Saudis agreed only to an assured supply to their American protectorate , not a good price. And not all Saudis want that deal to be honored into the forseeable…recall that the preponderance of the 9-11 Boeing flying bomb drivers were of Saudi descent.

    Then came the notion of sovereign oil wealth. Not just Saudi Arabia. That is a topic for another day , as are recent events in the Mideast in the context of the timehonored FDR-Ibn al-Saud pact that may or may not be holding up.

    *** the British did much the same thing in Iran , by melding a British Petroleum operation with an emerging Iranian oil industry under the Shah. But when the Shah nationalized the Iranian oil industry in 1953, Britain MI-6 toppled him with an inside coups that had onl;y 150 known fatalities and did not invlove going to full blown war. The Shah’s son was installed as ruler, a ruler who was very much a western puppet and especially friendly towards Americans . The CIA helped with the month-long coups, because both nations very much wanted to contain Soviet expansion in the region. That worked till 1979. Also another tale for another day…

    It’s complicated. Anyone who claims to understand the global oil business is either a fool or lying to you. Or likely some of both.

    1. Doryfun Avatar

      Thanks for that history lesson. I agree, it is very complicated. Beyond my comprehension. The only thing not complicated is the simple, but impactful “avarice nature” of human beings, and the tortuous path we weave.

  22. Dan Avatar

    Although there are some great points made here, there are a few more factors that play into the rising cost of gas.

    1. Emerging demand from China – China ia rapidly developing roadways and a thirst for autos…For many decades most of the world’s oil had only one huge market – the U.S….not anymore thanks to China

    2. Devaluation of the dollar – the buying power of the dollar has taken a beating the last decade…thank-you Bush II for massive debt and a reckless approach to what the world valued our dollar at….simply takes more dollars to buy a barrel of oil overseas.

    3. High cost to produce ethanol – it takes over $4 to produce a gallon of the stuff that prematurely kills engines, raises the price of gas and food. Massive subsidy here driven by the massive farm lobby in Washington.

    4. Speculators – yep, once again we all work for New York City…Ever wondered why an apartment next to the park cost 12 million….we all seem to have to pay for New Yorks greed….Derivatives, unregulated markets, small capital gains taxes, market speculation etc…all little jewels created by Wall Street to take money out of pocket and put it in a New Yorkers….Yes, we are all working for New York.

    1. Ralph Maughan Avatar
      Ralph Maughan

      I mostly agree.

      There is a feeling that the profits from the newly high priced gasoline is ending up in the pockets of oil companies and Middle Eastern oil sheiks, but I think the majority is simply more income transfer upward from the 99% to a segment of the 1% that speculates in gasoline futures and related matters.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

Subscribe to get new posts right in your Inbox

Ralph Maughan