Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The New Astroturf Movement

The oil companies, still wishing it was 1968, are organizing supposed "grassroots" protests against the emissions bill. Big oil moves with the subtlety of Stalinist architecture, so everyone can see who is organizing these protests, but nonetheless, it seems that massive, loud, and potentially violent right-wing rallies against any kind of reform is the order of the day. Centered in Texas, these protests are incredibly stupid because they are so short-sighted. Everyone is claiming that such a bill would undermine Houston's economy as a center of the energy industry. Other than the facts that people are still going to use energy, that oil is running out anyway, and that the future of the human race depends upon stringent restrictions on burning fossil fuels, what is really galling is that Texas still stands to be the center of American energy production because of wind. I drove through west Texas twice in the past two weeks on different routes. Both ways, west Texas has turned into a giant wind farm, one that will likely be greatly expanded in coming years. That is a limitless resource and will bring Texas a lot of money. Yet because it's different and because it's associated with hippies and Europe and other things un-American and certainly un-Texan, the oil companies see it as a giant threat. Meanwhile, if they were smart, they could simply invest in wind, diversify their companies, and continue to be huge corporate juggernauts in the next generation. Why they are so blind to these obvious possiblities is completely beyond me.