Over the years the oil companies have sought relentlessly to overturn the export ban. They went to President Ford, and failed. They went to President Carter, but just when success seemed within their grasp, the Carter-era gas shortage did them in.

The one thing oil companies dread, and strive by all means possible to conceal from the public, is surplus. Surplus became a huge problem with the Alaska pipeline. As many as 550,000 surplus barrels a day were oozing their way, at 1.1 miles an hour, towards Valdez from Prudhoe Bay. The surplus was embarrassing, because the oil companies were simultaneously arguing--through their political representatives in the Alaska delegation--that national security required the Arctic Wildlife Refuge to be opened to exploitation.

Never has the mainstream press been more soundly asleep in its kennel. Last year we had the spectacle of Rep. Don Young of Alaska demanding that Clinton abolish the ban on export of Alaskan crude because surpluses were keeping oil prices low in the U.S. At the same time over in the Senate, Alaska's Frank Murkowski was claiming that the Alaskan Wildlife Refuge needed to be opened for extensive oil leasing because shortages of crude oil loomed in the near future!

This preposterous duplicity has now been ratified by Clinton. On the same day he issued his executive order permitting Alaskan oil to be shipped to Asian markets, thus accepting Don Young's arguments about domestic glut, he ordered energy secretary Hazel O'Leary to release 45,000 barrels a day from the strategic reserve to ease the current "shortage." For his part, Bob Dole has made his claim on oil company campaign funding by calling for the end of the gasoline tax, now at 4.3 cents a gallon--preposterously claimed by NBC to be at the heart of the 20 percent price increase.

The oil companies have got everything they want, and all that remains is to await the sluice of oil dollars to the campaign chests of the politicians who made it possible.

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