Ryan Chartrand

In some form, the forward-looking innovations of the sustainability movement are constantly and increasingly in sight of the public’s eye. Everybody in the world of big business and government love to talk about the importance of treading lightly on the earth but things always move mind-numbingly slow when it comes to implementation.

Anyone and everyone who might have a vested interest in helping civilization steer clear of its current trajectory of self destruction must understand the devious nature of greenwashing. When large institutions talk about sustainability, they are just looking to appease the growing green faction of American population.

You know, those people who might see the virtues of thinking about the state of our planet that we hand down to our grandchildren. The problem is, the actual actions being taken by our institutions to satisfy their self-defined sustainability quota are often weak and counterproductive. A good example of this is the new energy bill.

In the first session of the 110th Congress, after years of Republican stranglehold, the Democrats sit on Capitol Hill and attempt to make their first baby step in the right direction. So many solutions to America’s addiction to oil are built into the bill’s synopsis: “To reduce our nation’s dependency on foreign oil by investing in clean, renewable, and alternative energy resources, promoting new emerging energy technologies, developing greater efficiency, and creating a strategic energy efficiency and renewables reserve to invest in alternative energy, and for other purposes.”

It is questionable however, how many of our representatives actually read through the entire text of the document which is hundreds of pages long.

The bill will cut 14 billion from oil and gas subsidies and re-allocate to the burgeoning biofuel industry. Green industry closer to consumption would get all of the benefits while production industries like wind and photovoltaic would get none. Ironically, oil companies like Shell and BP are the largest producers of solar panels on the planet. The process would take place over the next 10 years with $1.4 billion cut from dirty energy each year. This would undoubtedly establish biofuels as a permanent component of America’s energy portfolio. Compared to the massive scale of the energy economy however, $1.4 billion a year is but a drop in the bucket.

According to a July 27 article in CNN money by Steve Hargreaves, Exxon Mobil pulled in a profit of $10.4 billion in the second quarter of 2006. That’s a heinous $1,318 per second! A logical assessment of this fact would make one wonder, why the Democrat’s great new bill is cutting such an insubstantial amount of subsidies. Big oil and gas just might survive if Uncle Sam was to stop holding their hand.

Even with this subsidy cut, the oil and gas industry will still be the No. 1 recipient of government assistance. Placing as a not-so-close second, the nuclear industry would receive one quarter the amount that oil and gas does. In another chilling comparison, Doug Koplow, economist and founder of the resource consulting firm Earth Track firm estimates that $19 billion is spent every year purely to guard oil shipping lanes in the middle east. This has nothing to do with the incomprehensible cost of our futile war of occupation in the implied strategic military stronghold of Iraq.

Big oil, big auto and our government have conspired to condition America to rely on our heavy oil addiction. Since this bill was passed on the Jan. 18, it is easy to see that it is only perpetuating the problem even though its language seems helpful and hopeful on the surface. Crude oil prices remain more than $50 per barrel and according to estimates on the department of energy’s Web site on Feb. 1, the United States imported crude oil at a rate of 8,379 thousand barrels per day.

In a speech in May, our dumbfounded pawn of a president accidentally spit out some wisdom. “Our dependence on foreign oil is like a foreign tax on the American dream, and that tax is growing every year.”

Contrary to what we have been led to believe by the powers that be, we are destroying our American dream by the same forces of addiction that have created it. This continued “tax” on the “dream” will lead to both empty pockets at the pump and the expedited destruction of the natural systems which so generously have allowed us life on our spaceship Earth.

Jesse Churchill is an architecture senior as well as founder and president of the Empower Poly Coalition of Campus Sustainability Clubs please e-mail comments to churchillster42@gmail.com.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *