In my picture dictionary, next to the word fool, I see a picture of Alaska Gov. Frank Murkowski.
Over the last few years, he’s appeared to be suffering from what I now refer to as a corrosive mentality. And in the last few days his brain seems to have shut down altogether.
Monday, in an utterly incoherent and intentionally misleading flow of verbal nonsense, Murkowski somehow reached the conclusion that the disruption in oil royalties from the failure of the Prudhoe Bay pipeline was reason to move quickly to build yet another pipeline — this one through the Yukon.
I am not certain what the good governor has tapped into but it is neither common sense nor good business.
It is time voters take Alaska’s senior statesman off line for a while. If nothing else, he should be shut down for necessary repairs.
His type of mental corrosion is first evidenced by his selective loss of memory.
He seems to have forgotten what large corporations do best: They make money hand-over-fist. In this case they profit even at the expense of the environment, the health and well-being of ordinary citizens and the future of the state’s economy.
There are few corporations that do this hand-over-fist stuff better than British Petroleum.
In all fairness we cannot not just single out BP in this latest Alaska oil debacle. Equally to blame are such giants as Conoco-Phillips and Exxon Mobil Corporation.
In March of this year the pipeline from Prudhoe Bay began to fail.
After dropping over 200,000 gallons of crude (the largest spill ever recorded on the North Slope) on the Alaskan tundra the oil conglomerate finally felt motivated to inspect the line. That inspection revealed massive corrosion in 12 of 16 test sites.
If Murkowski were mentally clicking on anywhere close to all cylinders his news conference would have included a dire warning for the residents of Alaska: The Prudhoe Bay oil pipeline has been dangerously mismanaged by BP and other oil companies and his government will do everything it can to insure future compliance with good business practices.
This, of course, is wishful thinking on my part.
Murkowski and all Alaska residents are so deeply hooked on the success of the oil industry all safeguards are off the table.
Oil and gas revenues account for almost 83 per cent of the state’s income and the shutdown will cost state coffers $6.4 dollars a day.
The governor can ill afford to press for additional pipeline inspections, necessary repairs and future safeguards on an industry that has made Alaska what it is today: addicted and therefore dependent on a one-horse economy.
BP is the “candy man” to an economy and a political system that is hooked on crude.
Murkowski has no alternative — save a born again epiphany or an exorcism — but to toe the corporate line.
But the corporate line runs deeper than mere environmental degradation and state political manipulation.
There is a clear line to be drawn between Murkowski’s support for Prudhoe Bay oil supplies and his unflinching support of the Bush administration’s Middle East policies.
Murkowski’s selective memory lapse certainly extends to the fact that the Western meddling in the Middle East has a long and nefarious history.
The US’s policy to invade Iraq began to ferment way back in 1925, when a consortium of European and American oil companies formed the Iraq Petroleum Company.
That agreement to develop and export Iraqi oil expired in 2000. America’s economic machinery will not run without Middle Eastern oil and when this agreement expired with no hope of renewal, the only other option was war.
In 1945, US President Franklin D. Roosevelt staged an oil deal with Saudi Arabia’s King Abdula-Aziz to export oil and receive a 12-per-cent royalty.
The new violence in the Middle East is now putting even that sweetheart deal at risk.
No one addressed America’s oil dependence any more clearly than did former US President Richard Nixon.
On November 26, 1973 Nixon exhorted, “We use 30 per cent of all the world’s energy. That isn’t bad; that is good. That means that we are the richest, strongest people in the world and that we have the highest standard of living in the world.
“That is why we need so much energy, and may it always be that way.”
In order to fulfill Nixon’s promise to the American people Murkowski had little option but to sell Alaska voters on an oil economy.
Alaskans are now in so deep they have few options but to toe the corporate line.
Even US Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman was sloshing around for words to describe the latest Prudhoe Bay failure.
“Substitutions for Alaska crude oil, we believe, are available,” he said.
By diverting “supplies from Saudi Arabia and Mexico, my sense is we’re in pretty reasonable shape,” Bodman concludes.
This is political speak for being in a world of trouble.
Murkowski’s approach to the future of the Alaska state economy would be funny if it were not so dangerous to the health and stability of the people who live there.
Oil is Alaska’s drug of choice. Murkowski is the man to maintain that desperate addiction.