Friday, May 11, 2007

What's Oil Got to Do With It?

From Saturday's New York Times story "Cheney, on Carrier, Sends Warning to Iran"
Vice President Dick Cheney used the deck of an American aircraft carrier just 150 miles off Iran’s coast as the backdrop yesterday to warn that the United States was prepared to use its naval power to keep Tehran from disrupting oil routes...

Oil seemed to be on Mr. Cheney’s mind yesterday when he told 3,500 to 4,000 members of the Stennis’s crew that Iran would not be permitted to choke off oil shipments.
A 2nd Times piece, "Billions in Oil Missing in Iraq, U.S. Study Finds" reports that hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil "is unaccounted for and could have been siphoned off through corruption or smuggling." The report reinforces suspicion that corruption in the oil sector is likely financing some of the insurgency.

Of course, a resurgent oil industry, we were told, would finance the reconstruction of the energy sector and Iraq as a whole. It hasn't turned out that way.
Adding together both civilian and military financing, the report concludes that the United States has spent $5.1 billion of the $7.4 billion in American taxpayer money set aside to rebuild the Iraqi electricity and oil sectors. The United States has also spent $3.8 billion of Iraqi money on those sectors, the report says.
Despite that investment, less electricity is being produced that before the invasion, and neither oil "exports nor production have met American goals and have also declined since last year, the report says."

Dealing with Petroleum Addiction, British Style

The British Government is attempting to strangle the electric car baby in its London cradle.

The Times Online reports the British government's Department for Transport (DfT) has conducted a safety test on the all-electric Reva G-Whiz and found it wanting. The small, 45mph zero-emission vehicles have found a ready market in London - 850 sold so far - where electrics are exempt from the stiff daily congestion charge for driving in central London.

City government under Ken Livingston has been encouraging use of such cars. But now the central government, long hostile to alternative-fueled vehicles (it has cracked down on vegetable-oil fueled cars), "decided to buy a G-Wiz and carry out its own crash test after becoming concerned by the rapid growth in sales." Concerned with the results, the DfT took the unusual step of releasing its finding early and is "urgently seeking a review of the European regulations covering the sale of the cars." The car, classified as a "quadricycle," weighing under 400kg without the battery, is fully legal under existing rules.

The world's major auto manufacturers have steadfastly refused to build electric cars. The world's governments have refused to set sufficient incentives or mandates, with the exception of California which eventually backed down. Now the stars have aligned for a successful electric city car market in Britain, and New Labour is looking for ways to shut it down.

Conservative MP Boris Johnson blogs "Banning the G-Wiz sums up Labour" in a most amusingly perverse Tory manner about the issue.
They want to ban it, of course. No, wait. It's even wetter than that. They want Brussels to ban it for them!....It's as though we have got into some weird S & M relationship with the EU, in which ministers go around asking for correction. After years of ritual humiliation at the hands of Madame de Bruxelles, the fabled dominatrix, the man in Whitehall has become addicted to discipline.