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from Breakingviews:

How Big Oil could grease invisible hand

By Stephanie Rogan

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are her own.

The U.S. energy problem is very much due to a breakdown of the free market, contends the new documentary, “Pump.” Married co-directors Josh Tickell and Rebecca Harrell Tickell show how Big Oil’s monopoly on transportation fuels hurts Americans more than they realize. If drivers had options when filling up their tanks, both country and consumers would benefit.

A narrow focus helps “Pump” make its point clearly. The filmmakers don’t take on global warming or automobiles. Their solution is simple and straightforward: introduce competition at the gas station and let the invisible hand do the rest. What that competition might be doesn’t turn up till much later in the story, when it is explained that an inexpensive modification on most cars would enable them to run on alcohol-based alternatives.

Talking heads, including former Shell Oil boss John Hofmeister, trace the origins of the powerful industry. Sobering data links just about every aspect of Americans’ lives back to crude oil and outlines the ways U.S. democracy is fettered by dependence on it. For starters, the United States spends nearly $1 billion overseas everyday to pay for oil, leaving its economy vulnerable to the whims of foreign nations. The Tickells also point to its outsize role in U.S. foreign policy decisions.

from Breakingviews:

Stanford’s snub to coal typical of Silicon Valley

By Christopher Swann

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Stanford’s snub to coal is typical of Silicon Valley. The black rock is an easy target for the university’s $18.7 billion endowment, which is bigger than the top five U.S. coal firms combined. But shouldn’t the principle behind it, reversing global warming, also apply to oil companies, including Stanford donor Chevron? Like Valley tech tycoons, the Palo Alto school seems to shun some evils only so far.

from Breakingviews:

Shell must hope Voser successor mimics his ways

By Kevin Allison

The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own

When a chief executive unexpectedly leaves to spend more time with his family, it's usually a cue to start a post-mortem into a failed tenure. Shell looks like an exception. Actually, it is shame Peter Voser is leaving. The Anglo-Dutch oil major could do worse than hope his successor mimics his ways.

from Stories I’d like to see:

Hagel’s ignorance, Big Oil in the rain forest and a drone story

The Hagel fiasco:

I can’t get Defense Secretary-designate Chuck Hagel’s awful Jan. 31 Senate confirmation testimony out of my head. I went back last week and watched most of it again. It was stunning, by far the worst performance by a high-level appointee I’ve ever seen or heard about. I’m not referring to Hagel’s gaffes, though there were some. I’m talking about pretty much everything he said after he read his opening statement. He seemed – is there a nice way to say this? – stupid.

Yet from what I’ve read, those who know him say he is far from stupid. I spent an hour interviewing him about 10 years ago and he seemed pretty sharp ‑ though it was for a profile of a friend of his, so the questions were hardly challenging.

from Breakingviews:

Exxon’s fracking gag makes Chesapeake look good

By Christopher Swann
The author is a Reuters Breakingviews columnist. The opinions expressed are his own.

Exxon Mobil’s reticence to come clean about fracking makes Chesapeake Energy look good. That’s a rare feat - and hardly one to brag about. The troubled gas firm is infamously opaque. But its openness on the risks of fracking puts larger rivals like Exxon Mobil and Chevron to shame. After another large minority vote from investors for more information on this controversial practice, Big Oil should follow its troubled cousin’s lead.

from Tales from the Trail:

New Obama ad goes after Romney on outsourcing


The Obama reelection team is out with a new ad today defending itself against allegations, advanced last week in an ad from the conservative group Americans for Prosperity, that billions of stimulus dollars meant to create "green energy" jobs in the U.S. had been spent instead on creating jobs abroad.

"Obama's clean energy initiatives have helped create jobs for projects across America, not overseas," the new ad insists, citing fact checks at Politifact and the Washington Post and suggesting that "Big Oil" was the force behind the AFP attack. The video, which will air in Ohio, Virginia, and Iowa, also alleges that Mitt Romney has outsourced jobs in the past, first as a CEO and then as governor of Massachusetts, and now supports tax breaks for companies that do the same. "It's just what you'd expect from a guy who had a Swiss bank account," the ad's narrator says.

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