Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Oil Corruption

There's a lot of amazing information coming out about the horrific regulatory situation in the aftermath of the BP oil spill. This AP report is - to date at least - the most damning. Money quote:
Staff members at an agency that oversees offshore drilling accepted tickets to sports events, lunches and other gifts from oil and gas companies and used government computers to view pornography, according to an Interior Department report alleging a culture of cronyism between regulators and the industry.

Seriously? Who looks at pornography at work? What kind of clown show are they running over there?
The sad thing that is that the cozy relations between the oil industry and the federal agency intended to regulate it is extremely damaging in more ways than one, but it’s not surprising considering how addicted the US is to oil. This addiction leads us to subsidize the oil industry, which hides the true cost of gasoline (somewhat analogous to what I was writing yesterday about the true cost of owning a car). As Kate Sheppard writes:
The government spent $72.5 billion on fossil fuels between 2002 and 2008, an analysis from the Environmental Law Institute found last year. The government directly spent $16.3 billion on petroleum, natural gas, and coal products, and gave the industry another $53.9 billion in the form of tax breaks. In the same period, it spent just $29 billion on renewables (and if you subtract the subsidies for corn ethanol, an alternative fuel of questionable environmental benefit, from that figure, the government spent just $12.2 billion on renewables. Shifting subsidies away from oil and other fossil fuels should be an obvious place to start reforming our energy system.

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