Information, observations, and analysis from the James River valley on the Northern Plains-----
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Ethanol gasoline is selling for $2.50 a gallon--$3 in some parts of the country. Energy costs are up generally, and the prices of housing, food, and clothing are edging up. A major part of the added costs involve the energy used for transportation and manufacturing, but other factors are driving costs up, also. The profit statements from energy companies are phenomenal. Yet, people tend to believe there is nothing that can done. They accept the consolidation of the energy companies and the soaring prices as if it's a tsunami, an act of nature that cannot be controlled or influenced.
Instead of listening to the real conservationists of the past few decades, the people have dismissed people with energy plans that can make the country and individuals independent as tree huggers and prairie dog lovers. The fog of political rhetoric has obscured the serious issues about energy and the environment.
Other countries are far outdistancing the U.S. in the generation of electricity through wind turbines. Energy companies are organizing that source of electricity so that it must be distributed and controlled through their grids. While companies like Deere & Co. envision a network of individual farmers with wind turbines that feed into a cooperative grid, most of the rules and laws being passed to facilitate wind energy favor the corporations. In ecology (the study of the house) and economy (the management of the house), the principle is that the more producers you have, the more stability and dependability. We are down to three global megacorporations controlling the oil supply, and similar consolidations have been taking place with other energy companies.
We have already forgot Enron. But the mega-oil companies have not forgot OPEC, who keeps a floor on the price of crude oil by placing productions limits on it. If the manipulation of supplies works with crude, why not with the refined product? So, the oil corporations have not increased or updated their refining capacity and we know the result of this attempt not to meet the market when we go to the gas pump.
The new energy bill goes to great lengths to let the mega-corporations maintain control of energy. Numerous, independent producers of alternative energy are effectively ignored in the bill. Consquently, few people who could help make energy independent and inexpensive again are included in the scheme of things.
Farm organizations and cooperatives, which already have the organizational structure to lead a resurgence of farm-produced energy, are looking to corporations to lead the way, rather than launching their own ventures and marketing systems. They have also forgotten the lesson of the Non-Partisan League in the Dakotas when independent farmers banded together to put their lives in their own hands, rather than the hands of corporations.
In recent weeks, I have been traveling the Dakotas and find the defeatist attitude on the farms dismaying. Farmers have the attitude that their future depends on being part of the consolidated agriculture in which their operations will be managed from corporate offices.
This is one of the biggest political issues in the Dakotas, but I hear no real leadership in advancing proposals that revolutionize agriculture and the production and distribution of energy.
The Democrats seem too busy trying to reconcile their beliefs to red state dicta to focus on the possibilities for a new freedom from foreign and corporate domination.