[Guest post by Stephen Wunker] Congressional Republicans keep insisting that deep cuts to government spending will help boost growth, and create jobs, in the short term. But that claim doesn’t make a lot of sense. Most economists think that federal spending on public works and aid to the states kept the recession from being much worse. What about the future? You wouldn’t know it from the Republican leadership, or their many cheerleaders in the press, but government spending can help bolster the economy in the long term as well.
The defection of Libyan oil czar Shukri Ghanem has reignited hope that Muammar Qaddafi’s regime is inching toward collapse. Yet this supposedly “high-level defection” was anything but. Ghanem, the chairman of the National Oil Corporation, was a marginal, American-educated technocrat recruited to ingratiate Libya with an international community suspicious of the eccentric Qaddafi and wary of his 20 years of support for terrorist groups.
Last month, The New Yorker's Jane Mayer published a long piece on how billionaires David and Charles Koch fund a variety of libertarian causes—from Tea Parties to the Cato Institute. Given that the brothers own Koch Industries, the second-largest privately held oil company in America, it's no surprise that the Kochs also like to wade into the carbon/climate debate. (The Koch-funded wing of the Smithsonian Natural History Museum, for instance, has a... creative... exhibit on climate change.) But how important are the Kochs, in the grand climate-skeptic scheme of things? Pretty central.
BP is currently the oil company everyone loves to hate, but there was a time, not too long ago, when ExxonMobil attracted a lot more scorn—in part because it was funding so many different climate-change denier groups. (See Chris Mooney's old but excellent Mother Jones piece that followed the money trail.) Then, in 2007, the company announced it would quit donating to anti-science groups like the Competitive Enterprise Institute, and the bad press mostly went away. Until now, that is.
Last month, Henry Waxman and Ed Markey summoned the chairmen of the world's five big oil companies to testify before Congress. The execs from Shell, ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, and Chevron spent much of their time trying to distance themselves from BP. We wouldn't have poisoned the Gulf the way BP did, they insisted. Unfortunately for them, Waxman and Markey weren't buying it, and noted that all the other oil companies had the exact same error-filled spill-response plans that BP did.
It is just about two and a half months since BP’s Deepwater Horizon rig exploded, at the same time exploding the lives of 11 workers whose names no one knows—in contrast to the two haughty executives who seem always to be taking respite from troubles in their conveniently docked boats. The news buried in today’s Financial Times story about BP being “braced for shake-up at top” reveals that, aside from ExxonMobil or Royal Dutch Shell (notice how these are already combines of previous companies), PetroChina seems to be preparing for an “opportunistic bid.” This will not be good for the United St
Earlier today, the chairmen of the world's five biggest oil companies went before the House energy committee to testify about the Gulf spill. Naturally, the CEOs from ExxonMobil, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Shell all wanted to put as much distance as possible between themselves and BP, protesting that they would've never handled this mess so poorly. But Henry Waxman and Ed Markey weren't buying it: Mr. Markey added: “In preparation for this hearing, the committee reviewed the oil spill safety response plans for all of the companies here today.
Could climate policy end up getting thrashed out in the courts? That would be an ugly turn of events, but it could happen. The New York Times has a long piece today about the rise of "nuisance" suits that are being filed against major carbon-dioxide emitters. The Alaskan town of Kivalina, for instance, has sued two dozen fuel and utility companies, including Shell and ExxonMobil, accusing them of contributing to global warming and helping erode the town's shoreline.
Last month marked a turning point in the United States-Iraq relationship. American influence is waning, while Iraq is taking steps to get on its feet economically. We suffered no combat deaths in December, and continue to reduce our presence, expecting to withdraw all combat troops by August. And Iraq concluded a major round of production deals with oil companies. This last development is a big deal.