Commentary: On Becoming an Energy Citizen?
By S. Thomas Bond, Citizen Farmer, Citizen Chemist, and Citizen Voter
There’s a lot of twisted stuff going on this election time. One of the most curious is something called Energy Citizens 2012. You get a mailer from the American Petroleum Institute which is an unembarrassed plug for burning hydrocarbons, with an oil well and a couple of the oversize pickups that characterize the workers in that business on the front.
You can’t see the “oilfield trash and proud of it” on the back windshields or smell the oil, but you know they’re there. The front of the oversize postcard also contains several very optimistic claims for the importance of hydrocarbon burning.
The back says “IT’S TIME TO CHOOSE – BUT FIRST MAKE SURE YOU CAST A VOTE FOR ENERGY. The candidates’ position on energy is important. When it comes to jobs, security and economic growth, A VOTE FOR ENERGY HOLDS THE KEY. To find out how, visit energycitizens2012.org.”
So you turn to your computer, click up “energycitizens2012.org”, and what comes up? Information? Naa, “JOIN THE MOVEMENT – BECOME AN ENERGY CITIZEN,” is what you get.
The reader is asked to pledge to vote for: (1) American Energy Security, (2) Sensible Regulations on Oil and Gas, (3) The Keystone XL Pipeline, and (4) U. S. Energy Jobs.
And then you are asked to sign your identifying information. No explanation of what measures you will be supporting is given, none at all. No candidates are named. No electoral races are mentioned, no information about people who will be using your name (and doubtless asking you for money) and no careful explanation of objectives. Over it all waves the American flag, suggesting blind conformity to “the movement” is a virtue.
It has been suggested this year that it might be a good idea if employers could tell employees which candidate to vote for. This is a little bit further beyond that – the candidates and parties are immaterial, you are to submit yourself to what is essentially an economic interest. The folks at the top of an industry are given the right to decide how to regulate not only themselves, but also society, ostensibly for your benefit.
For the voting individual, this is an immense leap of faith, to let leaders in a single industry decide for all. Or would it really be a leap of hopeful ignorance?
Advertising done by the “fracking” industry is ridiculous. It is everywhere: newspapers, all kinds of magazines, internet. Everywhere. The truth is, no corporation exists without legislation. Business on a small scale can be done the libertarian way, but all corporations have to have favorable legislation.
What the shale drilling industry fears the most is loss of legal privilege. The lax regulation, favorable legislation, the tax exemptions are at risk as investors and the public come to realize how they operate. They can’t deal with the details in public discussion. They have to have a supporting political force, and hence the manipulation of public opinion.
It would be very interesting to see what fraction of the shale drilling industry’s investments is in politics and public relations. It might shake some investors, too.
>>> S. Thomas Bond operates a 500 acre cattle farm near Jane Lew in Lewis County, WV. He is a retired teacher of chemistry at both the high school and college level. And, he has been active in the Guardians of the West Fork and the Monongahela Area Watersheds Compact. <<<