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US Congress Holds Hearing on Oil Dependence

Leta Hong Fincher, Voice of America
The U.S. Congress has held a hearing Thursday on how rising global demand for oil is affecting U.S. national security. Some lawmakers and energy experts say America’s dependence on oil imports limits the ability of the United States to meet its foreign policy goals.

In his opening address, the Democratic Party chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Lantos, warned that oil revenues are permitting producer countries such as Iran and Venezuela to pursue policies that oppose U.S. interests. ..

Former CIA Director Deutch said that to reduce American dependence on oil imports, the U.S. government may need to adopt politically unpopular measures such as a tax on gasoline and other petroleum products. “Adopting such a tax would provide not only a dampening of the demand for petroleum products, it would also provide a price signal for the private sector of the need to introduce new technologies that do not rely on petroleum,” he said. ..
(23 Mar 2007)
Disappointing coverage – doesn’t give much background and has a propagandistic, nationalistic tone (as a result, it’s not very effective as propaganda). Nonetheless, it’s good to hear that former CIA Director Deutch recommends a gas tax. -BA

McFarlane: Renewable Energy Best Solution To Terror Threats

Associated Press
The United States should accelerate development of renewable energy sources because of increased risk from terrorist attacks that could cripple the economy, former national security adviser Robert McFarlane said Saturday.

Speaking at a renewable energy summit organized by Sen. Ken Salazar, McFarlane, who was national security adviser for President Reagan, said an attack last year on a Saudi oil terminal was a warning of what could happen if terrorists carry out their threats to go after oil supplies.
(24 March 2007)

Big Oil Buys Berkeley
The BP-UC Berkeley Research Deal Pushes Academic Integrity Aside For Profit

Jennifer Washburn, Los Angeles Times via Common Dreams
On Feb.1, the oil giant BP announced that it had chosen UC Berkeley, in partnership with the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, to lead the largest academic-industrial research alliance in U.S. history. If the deal is approved, BP will give $500 million over 10 years to fund a new multidisciplinary Energy Biosciences Institute devoted principally to biofuels research.

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, UC administrators and BP executives immediately proclaimed the alliance – which is not yet a done deal – a victory for higher education and for the environment. But here’s another way to see it. For a mere $50 million a year, an oil company worth $250 billion would buy a chunk of America’s premier public research institutions, all but turning them into its own profit-making subsidiary.

This is shameful. The core mission of Berkeley is education, open knowledge exchange and objective research, not making money or furthering the interests of a private firm. In the last two decades, however, Cal and other universities – increasingly desperate for research dollars – have signed agreements that fail to protect their essential independence, allowing corporations excessive control over their research. ..
(24 Mar 2007)
Also at Common Dreams.

I can see why Berklians are distressed, but the privatisation of education and knowledge has been ongoing for decades. Maybe this is a good spot for them to make a stand, but.. good luck! -LJ

Energy policy makes strange bedfellows

Sylvia A. Smith, Fort Wayne Journal Gazette (Indiana)
WASHINGTON – Picture this:

A conservative Republican who backed the invasion of Iraq and is an avowed capitalist sitting shoulder to shoulder with a Socialist whose party says America is the biggest threat to world peace …

… and be delighted to be together …

… and say nice things about each other …

… and do so in front of journalists with their TV cameras and tape recorders.

Sen. Richard Lugar (the conservative capitalist, of course) and Erik Solheim (the Socialist Left Party member who is the minister of International Development in the Norwegian government) are, on most issues, an Oscar Madison-Felix Unger pairing.

Yet together they hope to reduce the conflict over scarce energy resources, persuade countries to use their energy income wisely and with more transparency and urge broader use of alternative fuels so oil-rich nations don’t hold such a big club over countries without natural resources.
(25 March 2007)