The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

Editorial:
Big Business's phoney energy shortage:
An excuse to attack the environment and through it the population

May 21, 2001

Over the last year, the big energy companies have created what they call an energy shortage, which everyone knows is a complete fraud. They have used this artificial crisis which they contrived as an excuse to boost the prices of gasoline, heating oil, electricity and natural gas to ever more outrageous heights, for their own stupendous profits at our expense.

But this has been only the beginning. Under the guise of solving the "energy crisis" President Bush now brings forward with much fanfare his "national energy policy." But what Bush calls an energy policy is nothing but a naked attempt to use the government to further benefit the energy companies at the expense of the population.

First, the Bush administration proposes that the government drop many of the environmental regulations that protect us from the worst pollution from oil refineries, pipelines and power plants. If these proposals go through, more dangerous chemicals will be spewed into the air, water and ground, threatening the health and safety of much of the population. This increase of pollution will also accelerate the destruction of the ozone layer that protects life from harmful radiation from the sun and the build-up of hothouse gases that are producing global warming. That is, Bush is proposing to allow the big companies to further degrade and devastate precisely those conditions which allow for human life on the planet.

Second, the Bush administration proposes to turn over even more government subsidies and tax breaks to the energy companies. They are proposing to give tax breaks for utility company mergers, to limit the ability of people to sue utility companies in case of a nuclear accident and to grant tax credits, which are subsidies, for any investment and new production.

The same Bush administration that decries "Big Government" whenever ordinary people demand taxpayer money for the most basic social programs, like schools and health care, is more than willing to turn over hundreds of billions of tax dollars to big corporations to boost their profits.

Third, the Bush administration proposes to turn over more government owned resources to the energy companies for exploitation, practically free of charge. More government land will be opened up to drilling for oil, mining for minerals, etc. It also proposes to open up Yucca Mountain in Nevada for the dumping of radioactive waste, despite the fierce opposition of almost the entire population of the region.

The final insult is that Bush would have us continue to pay these outrageously high prices for the foreseeable future, sticking more money into the pockets of these companies.

Bush would have us believe that his proposals would be only a temporary inconvenience. But the Bush family's many residences and vacation homes are not going to be subjected to these "temporary inconveniences." They are not located anywhere near the oil refineries, power plants, nuclear waste dumps that he wants to "liberate" from environmental regulations. His teenage twin daughters will not have to go to college near, or work in areas where they will be harmed by this pollution. Nor will those of the energy executives' families. No, the brunt of the sacrifices will be borne by the working class through destroyed health and shortened lives.

Bush may play the game of the amiable, good-for-nothing rogue and fool. But there is nothing funny or friendly about these proposals. They are a true attack. They represent the unbridled drive by the capitalist class for ever more profits at the expense of the population.

If allowed to continue, these attacks can only grow worse, raining down ruin and destruction on working people, the environment and the planet.