By Rabbi Arthur Waskow
Several years ago, the President of the United States acknowledged that America is addicted to oil. He did nothing to address the addiction, protected its Drug Lords (the Big Oil companies) and their enormous profits, and now has demanded a bigger syringe so as to mainline his favorite drug into the veins and arteries of the American people.
And of course into the veins of all the world, where the planet’s very breath and wind are being choked to death by burning oil and rising CO2.
Mr. Bush’s proposal to drill for oil in the Alaska nature reserve and off the American coasts has nothing to do with reducing gasoline prices at the pump. (The oil companies already have legal options on reserves that they are not trying to drill.) Nor does his proposal to limit the legal and environmental challenges to plans for new oil refineries, since in any case new refineries would take years to build.
Tying these proposals to the price of gasoline is a lie. It follows in the heels of the Big Lie about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and the Big Lie about imminent nuclear weapons in Iran. Those lies, like this one, were also tied to increasing the power of Big Oil. (For an analysis of how the military might of the US has been perverted to the protection of Big Oil, see an article by Michael Klare at http://www.shalomctr.org/node/1401
The Bush proposals have only one purpose: to add to the power of his favorite Drug Pushers before he leaves office. If he gets away with doing that, it is future generations of Americans and every other people and most species on our planet’s face who will suffer.
Instead of strengthening the power of Big Oil and its willingness to sell the future of our planet to multiply its world-record profits, this is what we could do now:
1. Mr. Bush could have strongly supported the plan of Mayor Bloomberg of New York, to charge fees for auto use of car-choked central Manhattan, putting the proceeds into mass transit. And he could have urged such arrangements for other cities, too. That would have saved oil. (see my Op/Ed piece on this, just published in the NY Jewish week.
2. He could have asked Congress to reinstate lower speed limits on the nation’s highways. That would have saved oil.
3. He could have urged Congress to extend the tax credits for installation of wind and solar energy equipment, set to expire soon. That would have saved oil, and encouraged new jobs as well.
4. He could have told his pet EPA administrator, who recently took his orders to prevent California and 25 other states from insisting on higher standards of gasoline mileage for autos, to reverse that kowtow to Big Oil and OK the higher standards. That would have saved oil.
5. He could have supported a strong Congressional bill to enact cap-and-trade limits on CO2 emissions. That would have saved oil.
Instead, he announced he would veto even the weak Lieberman-Warner bill, thus guaranteeing its defeat by Senate Republicans — though even that bill would have saved some oil.
But saving oil, preventing global climate crisis, and benefiting drivers or truckers is not the point. Lining the pockets and increasing the power of his pals in Big Oil is the point.
What is this like? In the story of Pharaoh, over and over his actions bring disaster on the people and land of Egypt. He does not care. He has become addicted to his own power, and even the warnings of his own advisers and the wreckage of his own country do not matter.
It is true that the Drug Lords of Big Oil have turned most Americans into oiloholic addicts, just as Big Tobacco turned millions of us into nicotine addicts. But we can redeem ourselves and save our children from asthma, our food prices from disaster, our Iowa from unprecedented floods and our Georgia from unprecedented drought and our New Orleans from unprecedented hurricanes if we act.
Please do two things today:
1) Call 202/224-3121 and ask for your Senators and your member of the House of Representatives. Ask for the energy-policy person on their staff, and then say who you are, where you’re from, and why your strongest religious, spiritual, and ethical beliefs are opposed to Mr. Bush’s plan.
2) Write a short letter to one of your local newspapers.
In both, make clear that for you this is an issue of justice and survival, and urge your representatives to act now to strengthen not the oil industry but the practice of energy conservation and the use of sustainable and renewable energy sources. Ask them to speak out now, denouncing the President’s plan to lavish more money and power on Big Oil even before the bills formally come before Congress.
There is nothing more important to our future. Nothing.
Rabbi Arthur Waskow edits The Shalom Report, a free weekly email newsletter. http://www.shalomctr.org/
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