Why Big Oil Backed The Fuel Protests In Europe
September 21, 2000 1:01 AM   Subscribe

Why Big Oil Backed The Fuel Protests In Europe -- "Watched from a distance, the oil blockades in Britain look like spontaneous popular uprisings: regular working folk, frightened for their livelihoods, getting together to say, "Enough's enough." But before this David and Goliath story goes any further, it deserves a closer reading...."
posted by johnb (11 comments total)
"So why would the oil companies tacitly co-operate with anti-oil protesters? Easy. So long as attention is focused on high oil taxes, rather than on soaring oil prices, the pressure is off the multinationals and the OPEC cartel. The focus is also on access to oil -- as opposed to the more threatening issue of access to less polluting, more sustainable energy sources than oil."


"The oil blockades in Britain and France were enormously costly. Final figures aren't in, but the protests likely caused more real economic damage than every Earth First!, Greenpeace and anti-free trade protest combined. And yet, on Britain's roads last week, there was none of the pepper spray, batons or rubber bullets now used when labour, human-rights and environmental activists stage roadblocks that cause only a small fraction of the fuel protest's disruption. "We need to maintain the rule of law," the police invariably say as they clear the roadways, stifling the protesters' messages while painting them as threats to our collective safety.

Not this time. William Hague, leader of Britain's Conservative Party, characterized the men who closed Britain's rural schools and partially immobilized its hospitals as "fine upstanding citizens." Perhaps the only "upstanding" way to protest these days is not out of concern for the broader good but out of pure self-interest."
posted by johnb at 1:06 AM on September 21, 2000

What Naomi Klein doesn't mention is that when supplies were finally restored, and a petrol-starved nation queued up to refill its tanks, two oil companies upped the price. Even though the price of crude had fallen that week. Nice one.

And while Esso embarrassedly reversed the decision after getting a private bollocking from Our Glorious Tony, you couldn't have scripted a better confirmation of their intention to profit from the expected relaxation of duties.

And I assume we'll see BAT tacitly condoning blockades of cigarette factories by 80-a-dayers next month.
posted by holgate at 1:10 AM on September 21, 2000

Indeed - I'm planning to blockade by local pub as well.
posted by Mocata at 4:54 AM on September 21, 2000

Make that 'my local pub'.
posted by Mocata at 4:54 AM on September 21, 2000

The lesson to this story is: if you want to safely practice your right to free speech and peaceful protest, get a Corporate Sponsor first.

Got it.
posted by wendell at 10:03 AM on September 21, 2000


And while Frank Dobson's not the most neutral of commentators, the stats underlying his dissection of the oil industry's profiteering make for a compelling argument. Governments are hamstrung by being accountable to electorates; oil companies only have to worry about their shareholders.
posted by holgate at 11:06 AM on September 21, 2000

Here in Sydney Australia half my fuel costs go to the government. The government is partially to blame, but the oil companies are real bastards. The Ford motor company has a Ceramic engine stashed in one of their vaults which requires NO OIL to run. The reason you do not see this engine in production is because Ford owns part of Mobil Or Mobil owns part of Ford, either way it's the consumer and the environment which gets SCREWED.
posted by Zool at 4:48 PM on September 21, 2000

They are also keeping us from using lightbulbs that last 100 years, surpressing the Newman generator and witholding the real gobstoppers (the one's I buy barely last an hour, far less than the one's that last forever).
posted by thirteen at 4:58 PM on September 21, 2000

I wonder if anybody's compared the attitude toward the Oil Companies between governmental entities (nations/states/counties) that collect tax on Gas per Gallon/Litre versus per Dollar/Yen/etc.
Wouldn't those in the first group find it kind of hard to discourage consumption while those in the second be less interested in holding down prices?
(Kind of the flip side to gov't using taxes to encourage/discourage personal behavior, eh?)
Just ponderin'.
posted by wendell at 7:32 PM on September 21, 2000

>>The Ford motor company has a Ceramic engine stashed in one of their vaults which requires NO OIL to run.<<

Oh, you mean the engine they keep hidden right next to that carburetor that gets 200 mpg? I'm surprised they even have room in the vaults, considering how much space is taken up by all those perpetual motion machines.
posted by aaron at 9:57 PM on September 21, 2000

And the car that runs on water - although my girlfriend's friend's dad acutally worked on the project that produced the water-powered car and even has a picture of himself in the Rose Garden with JFK to prove it.
posted by Mocata at 6:32 AM on September 22, 2000

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