oil markets saudi arabia bicyclists north dakota

You got oil, you get what you want
oil subsidies obama

Obama tries again to end tax breaks for Big Oil

Oil tends to concentrate wealth and power, not spread prosperity and democracy -- until we share this gift of nature. We trim, blend, and append four 2012 articles from: (1) MarketWatch, Mar 26, on OPEC by A. Asa-El; (2) AP, Mar 28, on road hogs by J. MacPherson; (3) AP, Mar 29, on subsidies; and (4) Winnipeg Free Press, Apr 3, on shares.

by Amotz Asa-El, by James MacPherson, by Associated Press, and by Winnipeg Free Press

The May Brent-crude-oil price momentarily soared past $127 a barrel, some 30% higher than the price last fall and only $20 off the historic high registered in summer 2008.

The immediate cause is the expected plunge in Iranian supplies. Recent reports suggest Iran is already reducing production levels in anticipation of reduced demand in the wake of tightening sanctions.

The Saudi response was resolute. “We are ready and willing to put more oil in the market,” said Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi.

But markets, as they often do in the face of artificial intervention, remained unimpressed. For the first time since the Arab upheaval began, the Saudis tried to play leaders and the markets refused to treat them as such. Maybe Chinese and Indian demands are returning to the pre-meltdown levels that helped drive prices up more than 500% within half a decade.

Or, maybe not all share Riyadh’s confidence that it can fill in for missing Iranian shipments. Maybe some doubt that rhetoric automatically translates into actual deliveries. And maybe markets doubt Riyadh’s denials early March of terrorist explosions in one of its oil fields.

Despite a changing Arab world’s growing hostility to a stubbornly anti-change Saudi Arabia, the kingdom generally managed to keep above the fray. Saudi Arabia’s invasion and occupation of Bahrain, designed to stem a rebellion by the Shi’ite majority, has also passed quietly, thanks in part to the media’s difficulty in penetrating a well-kept island that is smaller than Hong Kong.

A bolder regime would have understood that while each Arab rebellion has had its specific characteristics, all had a common denominator of insufficient political freedom and economic opportunity.

To read more .

JJS: To control oil is to control the lifeblood of industry. So much power makes some people feel above right and wrong; they become oppressive, expecting to get their way and everyone else to get out of their way.

Touring bicyclists wanting to retrace the path of explorers Lewis and Clark or pedal through the northern tier of the U.S. are being warned to steer clear of northwest North Dakota because of heavy oil traffic.

Missoula, Mont.-based Adventure Cycling Association, with a 40,000-mile route network, said it's remapping the popular bike routes due to "alarming reports" about risky riding conditions through North Dakota's booming oil patch.

Affected are Adventure Cycling's Northern Tier Route from Anacortes, Wash., to Bar Harbor, Maine, and the Lewis and Clark Trail route from Missouri to Oregon. Both itineraries through North Dakota are now rerouted up to 100 miles south, mostly along the Interstate 94 corridor.

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark spent the winter of 1804-05 at Fort Mandan, near present-day Washburn, as they explored the Louisiana Purchase at President Thomas Jefferson's request. The explorers traveled up the Missouri River, near present-day Williston, now the hub of North Dakota's oil patch.

One touring cyclist was killed in 2010 while traveling through the oil patch region of North Dakota. The Highway Patrol said the 70-year-old Terra Haute, Ind., woman was biking east from Stanley to Minot when she was hit by a pickup truck.

To read more .

JJS: Power does not just mean one can get one’s way. Power also confers responsibility, the responsibility to wield the power fairly, considering the rights of others.

Since those North Dakota right-of-ways are public, oil trucks have no more right to them than bicycles do. Indeed, since trucks are far, far heavier, they also incur the debt of covering the costs of repairing the roads.

However, all that aside, the right-of-ways for trucks and for bikes should be separate, ideally hundreds of yards apart, so cyclists can pedal in safety and tranquility and really enjoy the experience.

Which right-of-way should border the river? Probably the truckers have a lot less use for the pretty scenery than do the cyclists, and the trucks and highways do damage the riparian areas. Thus, rather than move bikes off the roads move the roads off the rivers, so that slice of nature can support other species, too, along with human cyclists.

But it’s hard to diminish the power of oil as long as we maintain the demand for oil, and it’s hard to reduce the demand for oil as long as government keeps unfairly tilting the playing field on which oil and clean energy must compete.

President Barack Obama's plea to Congress to end $4 billion in tax subsidies to oil companies was rebuffed by the Senate.

Obama had argued that Americans are getting hit twice -- once at the gas pump, and once more by sending billions of dollars in tax subsidies to oil companies.

"I think it's time they got by without more help from taxpayers who are already having a tough enough time paying the bills and filling up their gas tank," the president said. "And I think it's curious that some folks in Congress, who are the first to belittle investments in new sources of energy, are the ones that are fighting the hardest to maintain these giveaways for the oil companies."

Two Republicans voted to proceed to Obama’s bill -- Maine Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe. But four Democrats rejected the effort -- Sens. Jim Webb of Virginia, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Mark Begich of Alaska. Obama couldn't end the subsidies when Democrats controlled Congress earlier in his term.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said Obama "won't stop calling for this; it makes zero sense to have the American taxpayer subsidize oil and gas companies who are enjoying record profits."

To read more .

JJS: Oil corporations and owners and families wield so much power because they are rich. They're wealthy because they get to keep the “rent” for oil, the profit not from extracting or refining or delivering oil but merely the value of oil in the ground. That socially-generated value belongs to the members of society equally, a principle that Alaska puts into practice and some Albertans want to.

Candidate Danielle Smith announced Monday a Wildrose Party government would pay directly to citizens 20% of all future budget surpluses generated by oil and natural gas revenues.

"We all own the resources and we all deserve to have a share in that wealth," Smith said at a campaign stop.

The promise echoes a payback plan delivered in 2005 by former Progressive Conservative premier Ralph Klein. Albertans put their "Ralph Bucks" into savings accounts for children or treated themselves to trips or consumer goods.

JJS: Meanwhile, oil companies have so much power it's laughable. And to get a good laugh, watch a video by a pair of Aussie comedians click here . Once we finally do recover and share what already belongs to us all, then the clean alternatives will take over the energy market.


Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .

Also see:

When the value of good land rises …

Senator Levin Questions U.S. Aid

The view of both us and a big newspaper

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