Andrei Codrescu portrays the oil companies as "(gigantic) octopi of sheer power that squat on earth like happy cancers." Mr. Codrescu's rant would be offensive if it wasn't so absurd. The entire essay is so full of misinformation that it is hard to know how to begin in refutation. But I will try to illuminate some of his more colossal blunders:
• "They destroy the environment without compunction." Oh, really? Where? No supporting arguments are given. How much time has Mr. Codrescu spent on drilling rigs, investigating? I can assure you, having spent decades of my life on rigs, that the regulations governing drilling waste are tight and getting tighter every year. Penalties are steep and there is a whole army (and Navy) of regulators that relish the opportunity to issue citations. Not just here, but in Mexico, West Africa and just about anyplace else there is drilling.
• "Everybody knows that alternative technologies are fully viable now, but that they are deliberately suppressed." This is a real whopper. Technically viable and economically viable are two completely separate issues. Keep in mind that even if hydrogen fuel were universally and commercially available, it would require 20 tanker trucks to deliver to your local station the same BTU equivalent of liquefied hydrogen fuel as opposed to one truckload of gasoline. And all of those trucks require fuel, tires, emit pollution, and all the rest.
• "Other countries, like Brazil, have switched to ethanol completely." Gee whiz, somebody ought to tell all them Brazilians that! Then they can quit producing those 1.8 million barrels a day of crude oil, and stop importing another 400,000 barrels a day from Africa. But hey, don't let the facts get in the way of a good tantrum.
• "That's alcohol, it burns clean, there's an endless supply ... ." Sure it burns clean. Unfortunately, the thousands of square miles of tropical forest that have to be cleared for cultivation don't. As for an "endless supply," there is no endless supply of any commodity, be it oil, ethanol, Rolex watches, soybeans, or John Deere tractors.
• "... and your leaders don't have to hold hands with Saudi Royals in public, and kiss their ass in private." Yeah, I guess that there is a case to be made that holding hands with Latin land barons who pay sugar-cane choppers (often children) less than a dollar a day to wade through snake and mosquito infested swamps does have a certain moral superiority to coddling sheiks in the desert. Shame about the forest, we don't need no stinking wetlands anyhow!
• "Everyone is up to their necks in debt and fearing for life." Well, I guess it depends on whom you know, but I don't recollect greedy old Mister Exxon and Mister Shell putting a gun to my head, forcing me to buy a Humvee, or putting $5-a-bottle Evian on my Visa Card.
And so on, and so forth. I could go on, but what would be the point? I would think that you would find Mr. Codrescu's remarks embarrassing by association.
San Antonio, Texas
They Share Blame
I believe every member of City Council and the mayor should be voted out of office. They all share the blame for not having a plan developed to protect the citizens of New Orleans. No matter what other accomplishments they may point to, their main function is to protect the citizens of the city. They failed. I cannot think of one reason to have any confidence in the mayor or the council to rebuild New Orleans.
Vision is needed, but the mayor and the council have proven they did not have vision prior to Katrina. I understand the reluctance of the federal government; I would not place the rebuilding of New Orleans in the hands of people who failed. Remove these people who are in office come February -- or whenever the election is held -- and then watch the tone change in Washington, D.C.
Melvin F. Duncan