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Nader Crusades Against Oil Schemes

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Ralph Nader, a long-time critic of corporate practices which take advantage of the consumer to increase profits, is actively campaigning against the latest industrial beast, the "energy crisis". Nader, recently seen stomping on oil and government executives on a late-night talk show, was in Ann Arbor on January 29 to further educate the public on the oil company scandal. Speaking to a full-house at Hill Auditorium, Nader attacked Nixonian policy and oil company collusion leading to the current "shortage." The following anecdotes are taken from that speech and from a press conference held earlier that day.

The White House Creates a Shortage

Did you know the White House can create any shortage in the economy simply by announcing it?

For instance, if the White House wanted to create a shortage of straws, all it would have to do, particularly if straw production was in the hands of a few large producers, is to announce that there is a coming shortage of straws. What would happen?

First of all, people will start running to buy straws. Secondly, industries would begin to stockpile straws. Third of all, the producers of straws would see the price increase and say to themselves, what are we doing, selling all these straws now when we can hold off a bit from the market some of these straws we'll be able to sell at a higher price later.

The important thing to realize is that with government support, we can almost create any shortage, and if you have a concentrated company, that's the compliment to finish the operation.

The Oil Industry Strikes Back

The availability of supply, having been exposed and reverberated upon by a mass of public skepticism about the energy shortage, has now led the oil industry to say "Okay, if our propaganda doesn't make them believe it, we'll make them believe it."

They can tighten it up. Tankers can be diverted. Late last year, for instance, a huge Texaco tanker sailed out of New Jersey loaded with domestically-refined gasoline for a slow boat trip through the Panama Canal to California. The Eastern coast of the U.S. was starved for

to change Exxon's name more quickly and impressively than Exxon did?"

Controlling the Energy Market

Anyhow, how do the accounts handle that $250 million? How much of that ends of in "drilling" expenses? We don't know what the costs are. 

It's a unique marketing principles that our oil company oligopolies has developed. Since they're in control of a good deal of the energy reserves of the country-they control 20% of the coal production, they won 20% of coal reserves, they're over the 50% mark in uranium, they're moving to take control of our geothermal resources, and they of course, own oil and gas-the market principle they are articulating is that whenever one form of energy (like natural gas) is selling at a lower price than another (like petroleum) it's important to raise the cheaper from to meet the competition.

Now the orchestrated nature of the oil majors, and we're talking principally of seven giant oil companies who set the pace: Exxon, formerly Standard of New Jersey, and Texaco, Mobile, Gulf, British Petroleum, and Royal Dutch Shell. These companies set the pace, and for those who have read the histories of developing oil companies, it comes as no surprise they have a coordinated policy. They don't have to go into a smoke-filled crowded backroom to make policy any more than siamese twins have to conspire among one another.

The oil companies, first of all, are engaged in a whole host of joint ventures. That is, they are in business together formally. Anglo Armian, Aramco-these are companies that are owned by various consortiums of the big sever, largely speaking.

In this country, the large oil companies have gone into joint business ventures. The big pipelines coming up from the southwest are controlled by a consortium  of large oil companies. They have even gone into joint ventures off-shore, which of course, makes it impossible for a small producer to compete against the initial bid of large producers.

A Consumer Energy Policy

warfare and the lie. And not too many years later, mankind developed the technology that could destroy the world inadvertently, for instance the plutonium economy.

The citizens' movement against nuclear power plants because of the risk of catastrophic accidents is building up all over the country at a very rapid rate. And it is building for a good reason. The public has not been informed of the deadly radioactive material that can come from a power plant accident, or from the loss or release of radioactive materials in transit or storage disposal sites. 

Because the public is realizing more and more what the risk is to future generations, the movement to stop nuclear power is gaining headway in localities around the country where there are proposed nuclear power sites. The concern for citizen activists here in Michigan about nuclear power is well placed. The record of Consumers Power in constructing and maintaining nuclear plants is one of the worst in the United States. The Palisades (located near South Haven), which has experienced numerous breakdowns and shutdowns in its brief career, is one of the worst plants the U.S.

I'd like to refer to a comment made by Milton Shaw, an enthusiastic advocate on the Atomic Energy Commission for nuclear power. He was formerly the director of the AEC's Department of Development of reactor technology, and that's one of the most powerful posts in the AEC. Shaw said, "Look at the problems of the light water reactors today. Some of them are falling apart, and that comes from simple things like defects in the steam generator system, or vibrations in the core." The reference behind that quotation is the Palisades plant in Michigan.

(Ed. note-Ralph Nader currently has a suit pending in court to close 21 nuclear plants across the country because of their poor safety records, including Palisades. For a history of the Palisades , plant, see the December 14, 1973, Ann Arbor SUN.)

Nuclear power is insufficiently safe to be privately insured to the limit of its possible damage from an accident. Most people have yet to realize that there is a nuclear power plant accident exclusion in their homeowner's policy. There is a maximum limit set by Federal law at five hundred and sixty million dollars for any indemnifications from a nuclear power plant accident to neighboring property owners who suffer damage or casualties from nuclear contamination.

In short, if the Atomic Energy Commission, the utilities around the country, and the reactor manufacturers believe that nuclear power is as safe as they say it is, then why don't they let these utilities privately insure their

their statutes and their laws have a responsibility to protect public safety. While some states such as Minnesota have fought valiant battles to establish their right to set tougher safety standards for nuclear power plants than the Federal government, the fact is that this fight ended in a rather adverse Supreme Court decision on narrow grounds. It did not keep other states such as Michigan from asserting their primary role to protect public health and safety.

The tragedy of nuclear power plants is not only the potentially catastrophic possibility of accidents, but in their daily contamination throughout the whole nuclear fuel cycle-contamination with radioactive material released-which is going on all over the country in small and not so small ways. Things such as dumping materials accidentally or deliberately in creeks and streams; such as the leakage of hundreds of thousands of radioactive waste gallons into the ground at the Washington site; and a variety of other "incidents" as the AEC like to call them, that have occurred throughout the United States. 

And the further tragedy of nuclear power is that it is not necessary. The country can live quite comfortably without nuclear power. The question really is whether can live with nuclear power. Whatever risks we might want to expose present generations to, we have a responsibility not to spread a plutonium economy to future years of this society's development.

Also important, is that the students around the country are beginning to take nuclear power issue as a fundamental cause which I predict will be as strenuously pursued as any other student movement in history, as anti-war or student's rights to ecology. It will not only be strenuously pursued with a traditional student interest, but with hard research such as that recently released by the Michigan Public Interest Research Group (PIRGIM) in Lansing who reported on the hazards of transporting radioactive wastes in Michigan. This is not only a compilation of hard to get information, but it pinpoints the hazard of nuclear waste when it is transported by truck and rail in casks in such a fashion that the potential leak of the water surrounding the spent fuel rod could result in a small-scale loss of coolant, releasing gases with deadly effects in the neighboring area.

I'm going to ask the AEC to comment on this PIRGIM report, and see what they have to say for themselves in terms of what they have been holding back from the public about their safety standards for transporting nuclear wastes, which goes on every day at an increasing rate.

In other areas of the country public interest groups 





A nuclear "meltdown" accident would cause $17 million worth o f proper ty damage; 35,000 fatalities; 100,000 serious casualties, all over an area the size of Pennsylvania.

Ralph Nader, a long-time critic of corporate practices which take advantage of the consumer to increase profits is actively campaigning against the latest industrial beast, the "energy crisis.'' Nader, recently seen stomping on oil and government executives on a late-night talk show, was in Ann Arbor on January 29 to further educate the public on the oil company scandal. Speaking to a full-house at Hill Auditorium, Nader attacked Nixonian policy and oil company collusion leading to the current "shortage. "

The Federal government depends entirely on the oil and gas industry for its data. Not even a banana republic would allow itself to be put in that position.